My first reason to start an urban garden in a small London apartment was my desire to keep on progressing on my eco-minimalistic, sustainable lifestyle path. The second reason was the new documentary I have been developing since October 2021, which required me to set up a garden.
I spent a lot of time in the research and development phase of the project. And true to my nature, I over-researched by reading way too many articles and watching way too many videos without taking concrete actions. During my research, I made elaborate plans and lists. Unfortunately, that still didn’t get me anywhere near a gardening centre.
I was scared to take the real steps towards building my garden. The fear of failure motivated my inaction. To stop my delay, I needed an experienced gardener by my side to kick my overanalysing butt to the gardening centre to start getting the supplies I needed.
My first serious commitment to the future garden was ordering a 2,5 kg pack of soil online. Since I’m from a generation of spoiled Amazon customers, waiting for the soil to arrive for about a week felt like an eternity. Fortunately, the soil was well worth waiting for. Even a rookie like me could feel how unique this soil was.
My mum was visiting at the time and explained the way only a parent can explain things to kids who don’t seem to grasp the reality, duh…, that if I wanted to grow my garden indoors, I needed plants that didn’t need bees for pollination. It didn’t occur to me before that I might need bees. This is how much I knew about gardening. We ended up buying some herbs (the only ones that were available in the middle of February) and a few packs of seeds.
Beforehand my mum had already put garlic, beetroot, and parsley in jars of water, allowing them to grow roots, which I’m happy to report I replanted, and all of them but one, are doing really well.
Once the plants began growing, I felt immensely proud of my small urban garden. Every morning I check on them, and the joy of seeing my plants grow is indescribable. Growing even small amounts of food my family can eat is pretty empowering.
Of course, I won’t be able to substitute my family’s veggie needs with my tiny garden alone. But if I can stop buying some of the foods, such as spring onions, and grow mint, fennel, and camomile for tea, that will reduce some of the items I purchase and all the packaging they come in.
Since I began developing this project, my understanding of the importance of food growing abilities and knowledge has shifted profoundly. Especially now, when the Garden of Europe is burning in pain, the food insecurities will only increase.
Ireland has already started planning for that scenario, and the government “might ask farmers to plant crops this year (2022) regardless of their agricultural sector” (1).
That same policy was implemented during WWII or, as the Irish call it – “The Emergency”. The environmental crisis is also fuelling our individual need to learn how to grow food. As we have seen in the past couple of years, life has become pretty unpredictable in every corner of the planet. From where I’m standing, being as self-sufficient as possible is the best security we can have in the current world gone more than slightly crazy.
Second of all, I feel that showing my kids that we can grow our food is essential. I’m determined to teach them as many life skills as possible. My daughter is already pretty excited about carrots and warns everyone to be careful when they come near our garden. She got herself strawberries during our recent trip to the gardening centre and can’t wait to eat them all – she doesn’t like sharing 😉.
Growing up in the 1980’s communist Poland, food rations were a daily reality for me. The country didn’t have enough food to go around. Luckily, my granny, an urban gardener, grew enough fruits and veggies on her small allotment to turn them into preserves during the summer. Those preserves carried us over the long, dark winter months.
Even today, many families around the planet survive thanks to small plots of land that grow wonderful fruits and veggies. Plenty of women in developing countries make money through growing fruits and veggies and can send their children to school and build some stability for themselves.
I feel that local governments will soon need to step up and accommodate the need for urban gardening. Teaching people of all ages how to be more self-sufficient and grow local foods is a beautiful way of creating community spirit, building communities, and including people from all walks of life and ages to be part of their small, local community.
My urban garden is changing every day. Not all of the seeds have sprung up, and I’m not sure how much time I ought to give them before replanting.
So far, I have eaten primarily herbs and garlic and beetroot leaves that I have grown. Every time I use any herbs, I’m amazed at how quickly they grow back. If we all learn to use nature’s gifts responsibly, everything will grow back.
Unfortunately, having even a tiny garden like mine doesn’t come cheap. I think I have already spent about £100. I didn’t save £100 on my food shopping since I started my garden. However, I have started eating more herbs and have been using herbs more often in my tea. And it’s a long term investment, so the savings will definitely happen at some point.
When it comes to my documentary, I’m gathering footage weekly, so hopefully, soon I’ll be able to show you a teaser for “Another Way of Looking at It.”
Have you grown your garden? What has been your experience? Do you have any tips for me? Let me know in the comments below.
- “History crops up again ahead of tillage farming request” / 07.March.2022 / RTE News