Urban Organic Gardener Grows a Lush Vegetable Garden on His NYC Fire Escape

by , 02/22/12

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A Brooklyn native, Lieberman had no experience gardening or growing before he planted his fire escape garden. The fire escape was his first foray into small space urban gardening, and since the garden’s inception in 2009, Lieberman has amassed a wealth of knowledge on how to start growing your own food without the use of pesticides or fertilizers and without feeling restricted by space or experience.

Lieberman used a variety of containers to house his vegetable plants. He made three self-watering planters from five gallon food grade buckets, and he used 2-liter soda bottles to make smaller hanging planters. He successfully grew peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, kale, and swiss chard in the self-watering planters, while the hanging soda bottles hosted smaller herb plants and other types of lettuce.

You can learn to make your own self-watering and hanging planters with Lieberman’s how-to videos, and his website shares all of the troubles he encounter and tips he learned. For instance, he recommends using your lettuce planter to grow heartier greens like kale or swiss chard when the weather gets cooler, and he advises against growing peppers if you have limited space. His pepper plant only yielded two red beauties after three months of hard work. His cherry tomato plant produced a lot of fruit, but he had to get creative with ways to support the wild plant‘s rapid growth in the small space.

Dozens of gardening and plant stores around the city sell the basic supplies you need to get your garden starter. Evaluate your space, pick your plants, and buy your supplies now so you can start growing your own delicious veggies as soon as spring has sprung!

+ Urban Organic Gardener

All images courtesy Mike Lieberman



  1. curve August 9, 2014 at 9:18 am
    It's not a matter of kicking the plants off the fire escape during a fire. It's a matter of falling off the fire escape or falling on it and blocking the escape of others. There is a reason this is illegal and irresponsible and it is unbelievable that you could post such irresponsible encouragement of this practice. Shame on you.
  2. Elissa.Paskin January 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm
    Fire escapes are for escaping fires. Growing a garden on it impedes access for both residents and firefighters. It is also illegal. I hope in the future you will be more socially responsible.
  3. mhopebish May 21, 2012 at 4:18 pm
    Firemen wouldn't think twice about kicking your gaden off the escape if they had to get through, and neither would I if I had to escape, so what's the big deal.
  4. Juan Pablo February 23, 2012 at 11:43 am
    What about the need to escape in case of fire?
  5. morgan grayson February 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm
    I love the idea of urban gardening, but by having one on a fire escape, you risk endangering not only NYFD worker, but your neighbors and yourself. Our building has had two fires on upper floors and the escapes were used for just that--escape. I think figuring out indoor window gardens (I use hanging shelves) is a better method.