As a twenty-something living in a tiny apartment in a busy city, you can imagine I don’t have much room to grow my own food. As someone who grew up gardening and working on organic farms, this can be a bit frustrating. There is really nothing like growing and picking your own food! Though there is not much greenery in my neighborhood, I have done a lot of experimenting with vegetables during the summer to see what grows well in pots, and feel I have gotten this down pat! One of the best parts about growing in pots? No weeding! Since I have been doing this for a few seasons, I figured I could share some tips with you, especially when it comes to growing in the wintertime.
I have found that swiss chard, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, kale, and herbs all grow relatively well contained in pots. I tend to just put them on my steps on lining my driveway in the summer, and I can usually pick from them all summer long. The problem with living in New England however, is that the growing season here is relatively short. Most farmers switch to greenhouse growing or tunneling during the winter to continue to grow during the winter, but that is quite an undertaking to do on a city block. To see what grows in your state, check out Pick Your Own’s Harvest Calendars by State.
But one thing you can grow year round is herbs, and they can be a wonderful addition to your cooking! Some of the best year round herbs tend to be some of the heartier types- my favorites are lemon balm, mint, rosemary, oregano, and thyme. Basil is my most favorite herb of all time, and it grows really well here in the summer. Sadly, it is not too well-suited for winter. Every winter however, I still try to give it a go and end up with a measly and browning basil plant that looks really sad. Oh well!
Another way to continue growing food in cities is by joining community gardens. The garden I joined last summer is called Peace and Plenty Garden (how cute is that name) and doing so was one of the best decisions I have made since moving to Providence. Stepping into the garden feels like entering a world different from the hustling bustling streets of Providence. One of the best parts of joining and growing is the interaction with other gardeners, who can give you tips and share tools and seeds. At Peace and Plenty, we have a lot of gardeners from other countries, who grow their own cultural foods. Some of the friends I have made there are growing the coolest things like Long Beans, and Habanero Peppers. We often get together for work days in the garden, and I love talking to other gardeners about how they grow and cook these foods.
There are so many beautiful gardens throughout Providence and in Rhode Island, if you are looking to join one in Providence specifically, check out this resource from Southside Community Landtrust.
For community gardens in Rhode Island, look at this guide from Farm Fresh RI.
Or, if you don’t live in RI, check out community gardens where you live here.