Gardening for Transients

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In spite of my impending move to Locust in August, I still plan on gardening this season same as I ever did. I’ll only make slight modifications so that I can take some of the fruits of my labor with me and leave some for the people I’ve shared the yard with for the past 6 years. It takes a slightly different game plan, but ultimately most of it will be the same.

My seeds are started. I WILL have a garden this season. Even if it means it’s all in 5 gallon food buckets. I’ve got seeds started. It is on.

Grow you little f*ckers, grow!

It occurred to me that some readers and students have asked me before what to do when they aren’t sure how long they will be in their apartments. I often tell people just to start a few containers and hold off on any big plans until they get settled. That response isn’t entirely fair since many young New Yorkers never really do get settled. Living here can mean a lot of bouncing around from place to place. Should they have to miss out on the joy of really getting down in it and growing more than just some basil on their kitchen windowsill? I don’t think so.

Now that I am in a position to actually consider mobility, I have some better advice to give. This is based on my experience this season so if any migratory gardeners out there have anything to add, please feel free to comment.

There are a few things to consider before you start dreaming up your garden:

Are you anticipating a planned move during the growing season?

Consider your move date. There are plenty of short season crops that you can harvest a ton of before you have to uproot yourself. Think of lettuces, radishes, cool weather crops like peas and kale and chard. Pea shoots are also a great crop as they are quick to harvest, can be planted densely for maximum yield and taste really friggin’ good.

Seed catalogs are going to be your best friend for researching harvest dates. Pick things that can be planted early and will be harvested by the time you need to move. If you just HAVE to have some late season crops like squash, peppers and tomatoes, pick compact types that grow in containers without trellising. It’ll make moving them easier.

Porn for gardeners. That’s some sexy salad!

Are you not expecting a move but your living situation seems…precarious?

Keep it in containers. It’s pretty straight forward advice, but it’s the most sensible. If you have to move it unexpectedly, you won’t even break a sweat over it…with the exception of the sweat that comes with lifting heavy containers full of wet soil.

You should also stick with some of the short season crops listed above so you can get as much food out of your garden in as short amount of time as you can. Make it worth that ever-present sense of doom looming over your precious garden. There’s no telling whether or not you’ll be able to bring your beloved plants with…or if the new outdoor space will have the same conditions as your current backyard.

As for me, this year I’m going greens heavy in the raised beds in our yard. Radishes, spinach, mustards and pea shoots will adequately fill my salad quota and tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will be planted in movable containers. I’ve got garlic and Egyptian Walking onions in the ground right now which I’ll be able to harvest right as I pack my boxes to go. Anything else I need I’ll just have to buy from some of my urban farm-y friends.

For the neighbors I’ll be planting some pole beans in the other beds, and everyone will be able to enjoy them for a time, along with the jerusalem artichokes I planted this fall. I’ll likely put a few tomatoes and herbs in permanently so that the place isn’t empty when I leave. Once I get to Dirty Jerz, I’ll be able to sow some more mustards for a fall harvest along with some winter wheat and other fun junk. I haven’t even begun planning any of that yet but I’ll let you guys know when I do!

Spring is really close guys! Are you as excited as I am?


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