There are many great things about living in Arlington, Virginia. Having a lot of space is not one of them. The beauty of this, however, is that it forces us urban-dwellers to get creative with our space-utilization strategies. This holds true for gardening as well, and this is often referred to as Urban Farming (or Urban Agriculture) — which is really just a fancy term for growing vegetables in tight quarters.
Urban Farming has really started to take off lately, as more and more people are becoming interested in growing their own produce at home. Some folks with small spaces think they can’t have a veggie garden, but in fact it is very possible, as long as you have the right tools. The Urban Farmer’s toolkit includes raised beds, containers, vertical gardens, trellises, window boxes, Square Foot Gardening (aka Intensive Gardening) – anything that helps you grow more stuff in less space.
A great example of urban farming tools — raised beds, containers, vertical growing, trellises, and intensive planting.
So I’m a big fan of these tools, and I use them to help me maximize the productivity of my garden. One of the easiest and most useful tools I’ve employed recently is the window box. Over the years I’ve been vexed by what to do with our herbs, because I miss cooking with them in the winter. Rosemary and thyme will survive the snow, but I’m usually not keen on trekking out into the garden on a dark and freezing night to cut a few stems. And my favorite herbs to cook with — basil and cilantro — wither at the mere mention of frost. So this year I came up with an urban-farm-friendly solution for our herb conundrum – a window box:
Window boxes are an urban farmer’s best friend. They’re compact, mobile, versatile, and easy to use wherever your space permits. I was going to build one myself, but then found this one which was exactly what I had in mind, so it saved me the trouble. This box can hold small clusters of four or five different herbs – just enough to carry us through the dreary winter months. The trick was figuring out where to put it, since our urban kitchen doesn’t have a ton of counter space or a bay window. But we do have a kitchen door with a window that gets good light, so I decided to mount the box right onto the door. It was fairly easy – I used three screws and a power screwdriver, and in a few minutes we had a door-mounted window box.
It’s so convenient – fresh herbs are literally within arm’s reach when we’re cooking. For $20 and about 10 minutes of work, we’ve been enjoying fresh herbs all winter. And even though our spring herbs will be in the garden soon, I’m so spoiled by the convenience that I think I’m going to keep the indoor herbs year-round.
The possibilities for window boxes are limited only by your imagination. Here a few other creative options:
Happy (urban) farming!