With March just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start planning out this year's garden. You may think that your tiny New York City apartment has no room to grow delicious vegetables, but think again. All buildings may not have access to a porch or a yard, but there is one outdoor space that every apartment must have: a fire escape. Mike Lieberman, the brains behind the Urban Organic Gardener, grew a beautifully bountiful food-producing garden on his tiny 2" by 3" East Village fire escape, and by following his tips and tricks, you can do the same!
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!
All images courtesy Mike Lieberman