Space Is Not an Excuse to Not Be Growing Your Own Food

The excuse that I hear all the time from people when it comes to growing their own food is that they don’t have the space. They will follow that up with because they have so little space that it’s not worth growing anything at all.

Those are just (poor) excuses as to not growing their own. A large plot of land and a ton of space are not required. Creativity and the desire are what’s required. It’s totally worth the time and effort if you grow just one herb or veggie.

On average food travels 1,500 miles before it makes it to our plates.

When you grow your own, it cuts down on the resources and energy that are consumed to get the food to your plate.

I began apartment gardening in the spring of 2009 on my fire escape in New York City. Even though all I had was a 2×3 space, I was able to grow lots. I switched coasts in 2010 and now live in Los Angeles where I have a balcony garden.

So growing without any land is certainly possible. Here’s how you can start.

Pick Your Location

You need to decide the best location to get your garden growing.

I’d suggest that you take into consideration is how far from the water source your garden will be. You don’t want to be carrying water across your home to water your garden.

Think Off the Floor

You’ve picked your location. Now you need to look at the space you are dealing with. Besides the floor, look at other spaces as well – windowsills, ledges, railings and the space above you. Get creative.

What are the Conditions?

Pay attention to how much sunlight your space gets. If it gets at least 2-3 hours of direct sunlight you are golden. My balcony garden gets about 4-6 hours of early morning sunlight. That limits my selection, but I can still grow something.

What to Grow In

If you are the handy DIY type, you can make self-watering planters or you can buy some containers.

Self-watering planters don’t need much maintenance after they are made. They are constructed from two 5-gallon containers. You can get from your local flower shop, deli, restaurant or farmers market for little to no money.

If you have rails or ceiling space, you can use soda bottles to make hanging planters or buy new ones. I’ve grown herbs such as basil, oregano and mint successfully in these.

What to Grow

This is the million dollar question.

You might not have much of a decision to make based on the sun and space conditions.

Once you know your options, I’d recommend growing something that you know you will eat and like.

My number one suggestion is always greens and lettuces because they don’t get to be too big, grow pretty easily and you know that you’ll use them.

I’ll also recommend herbs. They are likely the best economic value. At the store, you hav to buy a big bushel of them which you use only a few sprigs. The rest usually goes to waste. When you grow your own, you can take what you need and let it continue to grow. It’ll always be on hand.

This lays out your beginnings for getting your organic vegetable garden started. There is no need to plant a huge garden (unless you want to). I firmly believe that growing just one plant will make a difference.

I’ve proved that land, space, money and lack of experience shouldn’t be excuses. If I can do this, why can’t you?


Published on: May 12, 2011
About the Author
Photo of Mike Lieberman

Through his blog and social media, Mike Lieberman shares his expertise on urban gardening, green living and real food.

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Recent Comments

I wish all families with kids grew at least a little something. Besides our little garden, we have some small fruit trees in pots on the patio (the kumquats are my favorite!) – and now even a couple of organic hens. They’re easy to take care of, get to be outdoors all day, and have way more space than they would the way most eggs are produced.

Our little garden is a source of delight.