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Cropping Up

How to harvest from your own urban garden


Click on the slide show above and learn how to grow your own veggies.

It’s dinnertime, and you’d love to walk outside and pick some fresh, homegrown veggies for your meal. But the nearest thing you have to a garden is a patch of brown grass in front of your apartment building. Luckily, you don’t need acres of land or a degree in horticulture to grow your own produce — all you need is a pot, soil, a plant, and sufficient sunlight.

Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, and cucumbers are just a few of the vegetables that can grow in containers — and as long as it has adequate drainage holes, you can use almost anything, including coffee cans, wooden crates, and washtubs.

Urban gardening might seem like the latest trend with an energy crisis that is no longer looming and food costs on the rise, but it’s far from new, says Patricia Hynes, a professor of environmental health at BU’s School of Public Health. Urban gardens first cropped up in the late 19th century and have continued throughout times of economic crisis.

“Urban community gardens give green space to cities and introduce people to the growing process and organic agriculture,” says Hynes. “Learning how to grow fresh produce is not just something that lasts for one summer — it can be a skill for life, and one that has healthful purposes.”

With urban gardening, you can also be sure that locally grown, organic produce is on the table. To help city-dwellers get started, the Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN) works to provide learning opportunities and community garden resources throughout the city.

The popularity of community gardens in Boston comes with a drawback — space is limited. But you can still get involved by volunteering, says Shea Ennen, the BNAN operations manager, or by taking a class. To learn more, attend the next monthly Boston Community Garden Council meeting at the BNAN office, 62 Summer St., near Downtown Crossing, on Thursday, June 12, at 6 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.

Kimberly Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu.


One Comment on Cropping Up

  • Anonymous on 06.10.2008 at 9:56 am

    Plant security!

    How can I make sure that squirrels don’t get to my plants?

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