Food insecurity is a real problem, even in developed countries, and there are many reasons why setting up a garden can sometimes be difficult. I have tried to give suggestions that may help in some of the main areas that were identified as things that may hinder your attempts at creating your own garden.
Space: The landlord won’t let me dig up the garden - Container gardening can be used to combat this. We are not permitted to remove the footpath tiles in the front of our home, yet I placed a large container with strawberries and flowers at the front of the house. Our neighbour has places pepper and tomato plants on the street side too (see below).
Housing Insecurity: I may need to move house again soon - you can take your pots with you when you move. One major advantage of container gardening is the ability to move them when you move.
I did not have to move out of my home but in my monthly posts I have mentioned that the neighbor is having a nightmare with his renovation. In order for the builders to assess how bad the construction is they needed to access through my tinylittlegarden. I had luckily anticipated this and was able to move everything when they came around. It is also a relief that none of the plants are permanently in the ground as it is likely that the entire construction of the extension and balconies need to be pulled down due to the terrible construction. Having plants in containers is a real blessing in this situation because you can move them easily without damage or loss.
No Outdoor Space: This is a common problem in Amsterdam and other urban areas around the world. You may like to try guerilla gardening by planting a garden in a public area, this is risky because other people may take your crops or it may be mowed by council workers.
Alternatively you can grow your plants indoors - peppers and tomatoes do not need to be pollinated by bees and they like warmth and so are very successful inside. If you have virtually no sun you may like to grow leafy vegetables like lettuce and silverbeet/chard these like cool and not too bright places.
You can also grow potatoes and sweet potatoes inside; they are underground so do not care for bright sun, just warmth.
Time: I work many hours, work several jobs, and I do not have time – Taking care of a garden can be time consuming but this is dependent on what you grow. Some very low maintenance crops include potatoes, sweet potatoes (below), and carrots.
Health issues: For people with health problems or physical disabilities these low maintenance crops above may be a possibility too. Mel Bartholomew the founder of square foot gardening has many ideas on how to garden for those with disabilities. Most of these include raising the garden up higher to avoid having to bend. Placing containers on a table or shelf may help greatly.
Cost of seeds and plants: Set up costs can be high - Seeds can be grown from scraps – carrot tops can produce many carrot seeds, old sprouted onions can produce seeds for growing more onions, and you can grow many vegetables from scraps.
If you have a tomato or pepper, plant the seeds. The chances are good that they will grow, although some of the genetically altered and special cross breeds may not work.
Recently I let 3 small supermarket potatoes sprout and I placed them into a bucket which actually produced almost a kilogram of potatoes. The two of us were able to eat two meals from what was produced from those 3 sprouted potatoes.
In February, I kept one small sweet potato for several months, harvesting the slips to produce a whole bucket of sweet potatoes.
You may like to take cuttings of plants – one tomato plant can create many more, basil can be grown from cuttings. You can also take cuttings from fruit trees.
You can also swap plants - if you have one strawberry or raspberry plant they will create more plants from runners. Rhubarb can be split after 4-5 years, doubling the plants you have – it is also a plant that comes back repeatedly each year so your startup costs are very low.
Cuttings and spare plants are always a good point to start swapping. Gardening helps you connect with the community, don’t be afraid to make friends and start helping each other.
Water- water can be costly, depending if you have a water meter and need to pay per liter (or gallon)
If you have some space you can set up a water collection system. Alternatively, you can also use the run-off water from the kitchen and the shower. Try to avoid soapy water, but rinsing water and cooled off cooking water is very beneficial for the plants.
Soil – can be found anywhere, it is literally called earth. However, you may need to get some for your containers. If you have a yard or garden, you can place some of the soil in your container. Ask your friends and neighbors to see if they will let you have some of their soil.
Although not always practical you may be able to create your own soil by composting. If you need to pay for garbage disposal by weight you may actually save some money this way.
Containers – How much packaging do you dispose of each week? I have grown carrots in a disposable coffee cup, used plastic trays, cups, and buckets. Many of the Containers in my garden are recycled, reused, or 2nd hand. There is a Facebook group I would highly recommend for container ideas – here: This is not my page, I am only a member of it. It is very inspiring and has more than 128,000 members from all around the world.
Knowledge: You may not have the knowledge to create your own garden straight away. But I have made an attempt to give you all of my knowledge on my pages. Start slowly; you do not have to do it all at once. I hope that I can inspire you to give it a try.
Learn how to use crops that other people do not want: this week I was given 4kgs of plums, which I will turn into jam. If you know how to make and store food that others think is not good anymore, you get free food. These skills are becoming lost but you can learn them again.
When it is summer make pickles, when it is autumn make jam and apple sauce, and keep your supply throughout the year. This way you can eat seasonally, meaning it is cheaper.
Do you have other reasons why you cannot garden? Please let me know what they are. I am always willing to help. You can email me