Do You Wanna Build a Garden?

Procuring supplies to start growing.

Procuring supplies to start growing.

I read a LOT these days about what’s happening in the food movement. Over and over I see articles on urban farming, on suburban millennials buying land and starting organic operations, on school gardens exposing kids to growing, and on the importance of soil.

The really popular stories of young leaders in the food movement (especially women) often include stirring recaps of WWOOFing trips and months of farm work that radically change the perspectives of those toiling away. So inspiring! These people are “living the dream,” right? I love reading these stories. But so far, that’s all I have been doing, just reading.

This past week, I felt a powerful need to do something more. Something that goes beyond reading, writing, and thinking.


I’m risk-averse person. And an off-the-charts J on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, so I like to plan. I have a life in LA, and a partner. To sum this up: I’m not about to disappear to Australia to harvest zucchinis for 6 months.


Urban gardening in action!

Urban gardening in action!

Instead, I’ve decided to start something small, an urban home garden (a very small one, as I don’t have much space at the moment). My goal is to be present, to learn, and to create something tangible. Maybe there will even be food at the end?!

I may be in for failure. Really, I might be. I don’t have a great track record: I’ve got one sad (yet still alive!) tomato plant and co-ownership of a dwarf lime tree to my horticultural name at the moment. I’ve managed to accidentally kill dozens of plants over the years. But now it’s time to turn over a new leaf (gardening pun intended).

So I will go forth and grow.

And, I’ll keep you updated with posts and pictures along the way as this adventure progresses.

Here is the action plan:

Don't get overwhelmed by the plethora of beautiful plants!

Don't get overwhelmed by the plethora of beautiful plants!

  1. Identify space and light conditions: I have a front patio and a back patio. My front patio gets some sun (only a little) and a lot of shade in the fall and winter. My back patio gets more sun, but a large wall blocks the sunlight during parts of the day.
  2. Identify appropriate plants: based on some online research and analysis of personal taste preferences, I will grow spinach, kale, lettuce, arugula, and strawberries in containers on both my front and back patio. This will be my first try.
  3. Procure supplies: cue trip to the gardening store in town to purchase plants, soil, and containers.
  4. Plant and water: the messiest and most time intensive part of the process. But I did it, and I enjoyed wishing each seedling well as I planted it!
Urban vegetable garden in los angeles

I successfully completed all of these steps this past weekend. Now I'll let nature do its magic! (And keep my fingers crossed).

Do you have experience growing vegetables and fruits in an urban setting? I'd love to hear from you!