THE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS OF A KITCHEN GARDEN (The Urban Eco-Mama Experiment, part 1)

Spurred on by my obsession with all things River Cottage-related, I have decided to, with the full support of Handy Husband, embark upon an experiment to see just how eco-friendly and self-sufficient my family and I can become whilst living in a modern, urban environment. Phase 1 of this quest (which I’ve dubbed “The Urban Eco-Mama Experiment”) is all about home-grown produce.

I was given a plant (somewhat embarrassingly, I don’t even know what it is!) on the occasion of my blessingway/baby shower and somehow my husband and I have been able to keep it alive. I say “somehow” as historically we have not been very lucky in the growing plants indoors department and for quite some time have been lamenting our anti-green thumbs. So, feeling rather proud of ourselves and encouraged by this modest effort, we are now embarking upon a project to grow our own vegetables and herbs. This, given our poor track record plus the fact that we live in a city apartment and a country where the weather is less than kind for half the year, is no mean feat. But we see it as an opportunity to educate ourselves, challenge our notions of what we are capable of producing given the parameters afforded us and potentially a way of ensuring we have the freshest, loveliest organic produce right here at home when we want it.

 

A few weeks ago we happened to visit charming Överjärva Gård (described as “a countryside oasis in the middle of town”) right when they happened to be running a planting school for children. At 2 years of age, L was probably the youngest child to sit at the table in the greenhouse, but he had fun nonetheless and is still talking about the experience. Under the instruction of a very helpful greenhouse assistant, I helped L make containers for his plants using newspaper strips, simply yet cleverly folded (a great recycling activity!). He filled his recycled newspaper containers with soil and then pressed in our chosen seeds (pumpkins and peas) before giving them some water. Less than a week later, shoots started to emerge, and now the peas and pumpkins are positively thriving! Of course this is all very exciting to L (and his parents!). It’s wonderful to think that our 2 year-old has already started to contribute to our kitchen garden, learn a little about planting and grow his own produce!

MissMarzipan_kids_planting_school

Farm visits will be one of the things I’ll focus on as part of The Urban Eco-Mama Experiment, as I am keen to find ways to expose my children to a little “country life” whilst we remain living in the city and, as mentioned in previous posts, it is important to me that my little ones learn about the origins of food, thereby gaining a greater respect for produce, the environment and their own health and wellbeing. I am really excited about some of the day trips and excursions we have done/planned and will be sure to post about them as time permits.

My husband has been busy online, researching various methods/systems for growing plants indoors. Our “grow light” arrived recently and we have a mini greenhouse and self-watering pots on our windowsill. We have also invested in an AeroGarden, a “foolproof, dirt-free indoor garden” in which we have planted a variety of herbs. Not content to stop there, my husband has also created his own contraption that he calls an “off-grid hydroponic greenhouse” (photos and more detailed descriptions will follow in the near future).

MissMarzipan_aerogarden

We harvested our first humble “crop” of homegrown organic lettuce the other day and look forward to the emergence of our first tomatoes soon (hopefully!). One thing’s for sure, food definitely tastes better and you relish it all the more when it is homegrown!

2013_lettuce_harvest1

Please do stay tuned for a guest post by my lovely Handy Husband in which he’ll discuss our urban gardening venture in greater detail. This series of posts may be entitled The Urban Eco-Mama Experiment, but it’s a family affair after all ;)!

 

39 thoughts on “THE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS OF A KITCHEN GARDEN (The Urban Eco-Mama Experiment, part 1)

  1. Well done people! The humble beginnings are the great beginnings. Love your little helper – looks seriously intense. Love you lots, M&D xxxx

  2. Good for you! We have a graden for 2 years now & I love every part of it & seeing your shrubs, plants & veggies grow bigger each day works really well & wait for the eating aprt, that’s fun too! I wish you well with your green tumbs!

  3. I love this! Self-sufficiency is never a bad thing, and something we’ve strived for *albeit intermittently* for quite sometime. We have mixed success and there for keep marching back up the hill 🙂 I look forward to following your efforts!

  4. I’m SOOO excited to follow your eco-mama adventure! I’ve been debating on whether to purchase an AeroGarden for a few months now. Please let us know how you like it and if it does what you expect it do etc! I would love fresh herbs year-round. Looking forward to your husband’s guest post too. Great topic! Thanks!

  5. Love this post! We have a little patch of tomatoes, zucchini, basil… in the yard. And the blackberries are just coming ripe. It’s satisfying to go out and pick something warmed by the sun that you’ve watched grow. Happy “farming!”

  6. Hello Miss Marzipan
    I’ve started growing my own veg in recent years as well and it’s been great fun. I look forward to reading more about your and your family’s experiments! Have a wonderful week!
    Tarja

  7. How very, very exciting!! We love growing our own food. We’ve only done small crops for the past two springs but are building a massive garden and hopefully starting next year will be growing a good portion of what we eat! Looking forward to more adventures of the Urban Eco-Mama Experiment!
    Kenley

  8. Your urban garden looks like it has gotten to a great start! It is so exciting to watch them grow. We have been doing a little urban gardening ourselves…the only problem is that our two year old has been an eager “weeder” and so we had to restart the lettuce and spinach after she had had her little excursion 🙂

  9. Wow, you certainly do not do things by halves! I think it is fabulous how the two of you have set your mind to it and are now going at it full blast! I cannot wait to hear what the next results will be. Your post has inspired me to stretch myself a little further than only growing herbs on my balcony – maybe tomatoes….

    • Aw, thank you very much! In terms of the effort, I would not be so enthusiastic if I didn’t have so much help. It’s a great family activity, really! All the best!

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement :)! I’ll be posting an update soon as every thing has grown tremendously since then… a veritable urban jungle 😉

  10. Great idea. I decided make indoor vegetable/herbs garden this year. I have back big garden, but I decided to experiment with a few vegetables & herbs growing in the flowerpots on the windowsill over the cold autumn & winter days. So far I have tiny bins on two bushes, dill, chives, mint & just two days old radish 🙂 So it’s working. Waiting for parsley and plan to try the cucumbers & more herbs (thyme, basil, rosemary). Will do the entry on my blog soon about it so hope you will find it interesting and helpful 🙂
    Best
    Brejniak

    • Sounds like you’re doing great with your efforts! My dream is to have a herb garden… and maybe a couple of fruit trees 🙂 But for now I am happy with our little urban kitchen garden. We had wonderful herbs all through the summer 🙂
      All the best! x

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