Posts filed under ‘container gardens’

Garden-a-go-go

090802truckfarmThe Urban Agricultural Unit (UAU) is moving again. This time it’s rolling out of Providence to greener pastures in Attleboro, MA. Seven Arrows Herb Farm is adopting the UAU and improving its inputs (energy) and outputs (plants). Read all about it in today’s Providence Journal. Goodbye, UAU. Hello, SubUAU.

In honor of the UAU–ok, subUAU, get it?–here’s a new mobile agriculture project called the Truck Farm.  Ian Cheney, one of the filmmakers behind “King Corn,” converted an old Dodge pickup truck into a rambling, roaming, rolling garden. The truck bed was drilled with drainage holes, fitted with a mat and soil, and planted out: tomatoes, nasturtiums, arugula, etc.  A solar-powered camera snaps a photo everyday to show members of its CSA (yes!) how everything is growing on the streets of Brooklyn. Truck Farm rolls around the borough, going to parties and demonstrations, probably making deliveries too. Can’t you picture it in a parade?

Long live Brooklyn, from its dumpster pools to garden trucks!

August 2, 2009 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

Container gardening-or-Yoohoo, UAU

090428uauThe UAU (that’s Urban Agricultural Unit) recently moved to a new home on the grounds of Wolcott Eco-Office on Wolcott Street in Providence. Part large-scale recycling effort and part science fair project, the UAU is a mobile greenhouse constructed from a discarded shipping container. You may remember it from its appearances at ProvFlux or from its long-time residency at the Steelyard.

090428uau-interior1Plans are forming for the growing season at UAU’s new home. Perhaps some hops climbing up its corrugated metal walls and some native landscaping plants and some veggies and herbs growing inside.  Word is that its hydroponic set-up allows you to grow basil from a seed to a plant the size of a kindergartner in four weeks.

I get a kick out of the fact that this giant shipping container–duly labeled, see below–is now the ultimate container garden.

090428container

If you would like to learn more about the UAU or would like to be part of the team that is planning its rebirth, contact Anna or stop by the Urban Ag Spring Start Party that’s part two of the Green Zones event on May 5.  Thanks to the UAU crew for helping out with posters, posting, music, and more.

April 28, 2009 at 1:37 pm Leave a comment

Tires, paint, soil, and lettuce

The front page of Thursday’s New York Times Home section features a story titled “Slow, Easy, Cheap and Green.” It profiles Felder Rushing and what he calls “Slow Gardening.”  It’s a gimmicky name that means going with the flow of the seasons, rather than rushing to transform your garden all at once.

Whatever.  What I liked about the article was the photo of Mr. Slow Garden tending a bunch of lettuce planted in a pile of tires.

Slow? if that’s the trendy word to use…
Easy? yes
Cheap? definitely
Green? you betcha, but in case you didn’t get it, paint your tires green.

Oh, now I get it.  Green tires.  Guess I’m a slow gardener.

March 26, 2009 at 8:24 pm 3 comments

Out of the garden, into the frying pan

Green Zone has been slacking transitioning. As September winds down, I’ve slowed down on tending the garden and blog. I cooked up Green Zone’s kale and beet greens with a whole lot of garlic and oil for the Firehouse 13 potluck. How’s that for closure?

I still have some seed gathering to do: morning glories, bachelor’s button, dill, and black-and-pink scarlet runner bean beans. If you can get to Providence for a pickup, I’d be glad to set aside some Green Zone seeds for you!

Now, I’ve got to hit the books, looking for information on Rhode Island’s history of war gardens, liberty gardens, victory gardens, community gardens, school gardens, allotment gardens.  If you’re familiar with an example in RI, please let me know. Is it true that there’s a guy who still tends his WWII-era Victory Garden in Bristol?  Did your parents garden at school, or did your grandmother volunteer on a farm during during the war? Did you tune out during the Vietnam War and go back to the land?

I’ll share bits and pieces from my research as it progresses, and I’ll continue to blog sporadically about gardens I encounter. Doesn’t this look like an installation artist’s work on Parcel 12 (“triangle parcel” at Exchange St.)? A cluster of mossy bumps amidst the seven grassy hills (or was it six)? Actually it’s a bunch of those gorgeous Downtown flower and vine baskets dumped on the ground.

September 30, 2008 at 2:15 pm 2 comments

Front yard to street: “Bite me.”

The blog has been looking kind of black and white lately, so it’s time to green it up and then some.

Architect Fritz Haeg’s Edible Estates project appeals to gardeners and urbanists alike. He launched an “attack on the front lawn,” which calls for eradicating grass and planting vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and bushes, and edible flowers. Haeg helped install a handful of demonstration gardens around the country and in London, and his lead has inspired many others.

In Providence, where many neighborhoods were developed in the 18th and 19th centuries, some houses are built up to the front lot line, and the front yard is a front porch. Near the corner of Vinton and Grove streets, residents festoon their facades with flowers or tend tomatoes above your front door.

The planters surrounding Phoenix Dragon Restaurant at the corner of Broadway and Battey St. are filled with eggplant, squash or melon, and other edible plants. Check out the incredible vines and fruits growing on a trellis in the parking lot!

Fritz Haeg wasn’t the first to advocate farming in your front yard. I’d like to think it was Dr. Montgomery. For some 25-30 years (at least), he has farmed his front yard and sidewalk strips on Morris Avenue. In this streetcar-suburban neighborhood on Providence’s East Side, Dr. Montgomery broke new ground in more ways than one.

August 25, 2008 at 10:56 pm 1 comment

Gardening on wheels

Spinning around Providence, I have found tire and wheel gardens in unexpected places. The illustration on the left comes from The War Garden Victorious (1919): just another example of how Americans used every available space for War Gardens during World War I.

Rachel and Emily told me about the tire planters at the Bridgham St. Community Garden (corner of Westminster St.). Organized by the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, this garden has several dozen plots and about a dozen tires full of sunflowers, squash, some kind of black berry that’s not a blackberry (?), and other flowers. This garden is adding plots incrementally each year, with the tires creeping south across the vacant lot. If you’re interested in signing up to garden next year, contact the WBNA.

Across town, on Cemetery Street (near the North Burial Ground), old bicycle wheels, with and without rubber tires, define the edges of the Farmacy garden. Farmacy Herbs is a non-profit organization that tends the garden; creates herbal medicines, teas, and other products; and offers classes. Founder Mary Blue used to work at Seven Arrows Herb Farm.

Not far off on the map, but in other ways a million miles away from the Farmacy, is the Spike’s on Branch Ave. When Spike isn’t eating hotdogs, he’s doing some tire gardening in the parking lot. A closer look shows reveals that tires are stacked on their sides as a planter for mums (or something?) and an upright tire holds a bunch of yellow pansies. Yo, Spike! Nice garden!

August 17, 2008 at 2:33 pm 1 comment

Fill ‘er up: gardening in reused containers

Taking a bike ride from Firehouse 13 to the Steelyard, I encountered a bunch of gardens that feature reused containers. Behind the Avery (where the Decatur used to be), there are tomato plants growing in a bright blue footlocker and a couple of pepper plants looking good in some big tin cans.

Headed down Vinton, I saw a front porch loaded with container plants, including this guy planted in a coffee can. A breath away (after passing the house with the tomatoes in plastic pots on the porch roof), stood this bathtub full of zinnias.

Tucked between Monohasset Mill and the Steelyard is an alley full of reused industrial containers like these metal buckets full of ornamental grass and something with dark green shiny leaves.

There are many many more creative containers on the streets of Providence. If you’ve seen a good one, please send me a photo or an address. I’m always on the lookout for witty or wild front yard/front porch/sidewalk gardens. An upcoming post will showcase tire gardens here and there around town. Spotted any in your neighborhood?

July 30, 2008 at 8:58 pm 2 comments

Greening Green Zone: veg, herbs, flowers

Green Zone sprouts...

...seedlings...

...30 May 2008

In eight used tires, eight shopping bags, and one pair of shoes, I’ve planted several dozen veg, herbs, and flowers. Some have bit the dust…plucked, thinned, eaten, dehydrated, over-shaded, out-competed, drowned, killed. Such is life in the urban jungle.

Most of the plants started from seeds…gourmet types from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine, finds from the racks at Ocean State Job Lot, or leftovers (aka heirlooms) from last year’s garden. This spring, Rich Pederson from Southside Community Land Trust kindly tended a flat full at the City Farm greenhouse: poppies, red russian kale, green leafy kale, scarlet runner beans, mini-sunflowers, morning glories, ornamental gourds. I started another batch in a sunny basement window at home: lettuce, turnips, basil, bachelor’s button, arugula.

Radish seeds were planted directly into the tires…those puppies pop up quickly and won’t endure transplanting. I transplanted spares from my home garden…johnny jump-ups, dill, oregano, lemon balm, broccoli…and traded with friends for some marigolds and mint.

Some of the plants are doing better in Green Zone than in my raised beds at home. And sometimes a scarlet runner bean or gourd in one tire is outperforming the same plant two tires away. They get the same temperatures, the same soil, the same sun, the same water, the same company. Talk about microclimates–a world of difference, just a tire away!

Green Zone, 30 May 2008

Green Zone, 25 July 2008

July 28, 2008 at 9:44 pm Leave a comment

P.F.1: a monument to the urban farm

I recently visited P.F.1 (Public Farm One) at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens. P.S.1 ran an architectural competition to create a social landscape in their courtyard. The winning entry by WORK Architecture Company is an urban farm/mega-container garden.

The main garden structure is a massive flying-V composed of a honeycomb of large cardboard tubes reaching several stories high above a wading pool. Most tubes are fitted with a small planting bed on top; others are left open. The planting list includes 51 varieties of veg, fruit, herbs, and flowers. Smaller clusters of tubes provide seating, bars, solar ipod recharging docks (seriously), portals showing videos of farm animals. An adjacent area serves as a chicken coop.

Sustainability is built into the project. Materials are recyclable and compostable. The sun powers the project from the irrigation system (which captures and redistributes rainwater) to the ipod chargers. Over the summer, pickers harvest the crops and sell them at a farmers’ market on site or use them in the P.S.1 cafe.

With edible plants sprouting from a neatly arranged mesh of tubes, the result is both utopian and organic. Architects Amale Andraos and Dan Wood took inspiration from the uprisings of 1968, when French workers staked their right to leisure and liberation by reclaiming the beach as their space. At P.F.1, the architects invite us to reclaim the urban landscape. They say: “P.F.1 is an architectural and urban manifesto to engage play and reinvent our cities, and our world, once again.”

July 13, 2008 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment


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