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Mobile gardening

 
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Suggestions for a portable garden? Maybe a converted trailer behind an RV? Maybe something that packs up then is in a screen tent or green house for a month at a time? Is the idea even feasible or would it introduce non native species into the final zone? If one is a nomad are their only choices community gardens, woofing and wildcrafting?
 
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Gail Jardin wrote in the the Welcome thread for Vera Greutink:

Any space eh? How about in a small trailer? Maybe a portable garden that can be moved in and out of a trailer when stationary vs traveling.

This got me thinking - dangerous thing that - about how mobile groups fed themselves historically.
1. I know that Indigenous North Americans specifically spread seeds of useful plants and shrubs along their trails. Since their travels often followed seasonal repeating patterns, they were in effect "planning for food years ahead".
2. I've also read that Indigenous North Americans had some crops that grew quickly enough that they could plant, grow, harvest and dry the crop while still in the area, so "mobile groups" should be taken to include staying in a place for weeks or months, not just days.
3. I know less about traditional herding cultures, but at the very least, what they herded would have been a major part of their diet.
4. I have also read that in some cultures, people passing farmers fields could legally pick food for immediate consumption from the outer few feet of the field.

Starting from this point I'll add that if we made a point of planting more useful trees and shrubs in public urban areas and followed the same rule as in #4 above, would we have an over-all healthier society? For example, a local city has a lovely walkway all along the ocean front, and has planted lovely gardens there. Seabuckthorn is a salt-tolerant shrub with a very nutritious berry that could easily be inter-planted with all those non-edible plants.

That said, for Gail Jardin herself, some of the "self-wicking bucket gardens" could certainly grow at least fresh salad greens and kale and could be lifted in and out of a trailer. I've grown lettuce in a window box in the past, and my friend grows bush peas with pink flowers in hers along with portulaca.

What other ideas can people suggest?
 
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Jay, your post reminds me of a couple of things.

When I was in Mexico, most of the villages seemed to have communal fruit trees and berry bushes.  They had been there for a long time, anyone could grab food from them, and it was considered fair game. They were in public areas. No one would try to harvest a lot and sell it for cash.

Also, when I was talking to a Native American elder, I asked her about planting some of the traditional foods.  She hesitated, then said, "We believe that the creator puts those plants there for a reason. We don't plant them.  We gather them."

When the Native Americans back East planted their nut and fruit trees, as I understand, they were common, but available to the community. There were no fences around the trees.  

Guerrilla gardening is kind of the modern version of this. I have done a bit of this myself.  It sometimes gets poisoned and chopped down by the authorities, but sometimes not.

I think that culturally, we are becoming a people who are more open to these kinds of things.

Many communities in my neck of the woods are becoming ok with edible landscaping and raising chickens, including changing the laws that had banned them before.

I have known many people, including myself, who have made plants mobile in order to potentially protect them from epic freezes that would kill them.

John S
PDX OR
 
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I think fruit trees and berries in the communal parks are the best idea for 'nomads' as well as for people living in apartments without any space for gardening.
Here in Meppel we started a narrow strip of 'food-forest' and a veggie garden in the park, approved by the town council. Our group of volunteers (Permacultuur Meppel) does the work that's needed.
 
Jay Angler
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John Suavecito wrote:

Guerrilla gardening is kind of the modern version of this. I have done a bit of this myself.  It sometimes gets poisoned and chopped down by the authorities, but sometimes not.

 I totally agree - mobile people would benefit greatly, but often the authorities will claim it "encourages the homeless". I believe that the majority of homeless are not on the streets out of choice, but out of lack of good choices in a bunch of areas. I suspect that in the long term, giving them access to free healthy food will increase their ods of finding alternatives that work for them.

It also gets me thinking about all the space at highway off ramps. If pollution absorbing plants, both short and tall were planted at the edges, would they be capable of cleaning the air and soil sufficiently for edible plants to be grown in the center? In areas where salt is used on the roads, salt tolerant and salt absorbing plants could be used which would help our waterways as well. If the first layers were light-stemmed plants like sunflowers, they could actually be "shock-absorbers" in case of accident. Sunflowers also help to trap snow and slow down the wind (I've read that permeable barriers reduce wind speed more than solid barriers do.) Sunflowers can be a feedstock for biofuels, so if we don't feel they're clean enough for people to eat (though possibly no worse than industrial ag!) we could still feed microbes with them.
 
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I have always liked the idea of using edible trees/shrubs/plants in urban/city landscaping; but it seems the challenge is finding the correct design. I recently had the opportunity to have a friendly discussion with a few city council members, and suggested replacing the crepe myrtle trees along the sidewalks with fruit/nut trees. While the idea wasn't totally rejected, there were some valid concerns expressed. I was told it would be a primarily safety/sanitation liability issue, as rotting fruit or fallen nuts could be a slip hazard and could attract vermin, such as bugs, raccoons and rats. (Apparently, people in my town don't know how aggressive raccoons actually are, since it was mentioned that people could get hurt trying to approach them).
There was also mention of the local farmers/producers in the area potentially complaining about losing income, as many folks would prefer to pick free fruit from the sidewalk, instead of going out to the produce stands to pay for it.
Of course it would be an expensive plan, as well, since fruit trees are considerably higher priced than the crepe myrtles of comparable size. Then the labor of a city landscaper to provide the care they need to produce and man-power to clean the debris.

The liability issue seems to be the biggest thing, which I can totally understand. While it may be unlikely to actually cause an incident/injury; we live in a time where lots of people wouldn't hesitate to stage an injury, blame falling nuts for a dent in their vehicle, or falsely blame the produce for their fruit stand closing down in an effort to get monetary compensation from the city.

It was a good conversation with them, though, and I was pleased to see they were at least open to the idea of improving the urban-scape. I mentioned I'd work on some design planning this winter with the concerns in mind. Our city park will be getting an expansion in the near future, so that may be a good way to introduce some edibles to the community, and slowly continue to build on it through the actual city. I
I figure starting small is better than never starting at all
 
Jay Angler
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Kc Simmons wrote:

I have always liked the idea of using edible trees/shrubs/plants in urban/city landscaping; but it seems the challenge is finding the correct design.

The right design so as not only to comfort the authority's fears, but possibly to design something they see as useful into the plan. What you wrote reminds me of the work done in Tuscon by Brad Lancaster. He planted some edibles and mostly native plants if I recall, but the method he used conserved water and decreased the risk of flooding, so now the area offers free classes and water rebates to people who make changes.

When we get to the point that people get a rebate on their municipal taxes if they grow, manage, and clean up after fruit and nut trees on their boulevards, I'll be impressed. The reality is that trees and shrubs improve air quality. Planting them as small polycultures rather than isolated trees surrounded by hardscape makes sense to me. Certainly, there are probably some plants that shouldn't be planted in certain locations due to potential messes, but that's where the planning comes in. Similarly, planting in ways that doesn't damage sight lines for vehicles is also important. But that's what permaculture is all about - intelligent planning!
 
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I just read an article where Atlanta, GA is about to dedicate 7 acres of city land to a free edible landscape/food forest. Sounds like a wonderful idea that should be propagated anywhere there is unused public land.
 
Gail Jardin
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John Suavecito wrote:Jay, your post reminds me of a couple of things.

When I was in Mexico, most of the villages seemed to have communal fruit trees and berry bushes.  They had been there for a long time, anyone could grab food from them, and it was considered fair game. They were in public areas. No one would try to harvest a lot and sell it for cash.

Also, when I was talking to a Native American elder, I asked her about planting some of the traditional foods.  She hesitated, then said, "We believe that the creator puts those plants there for a reason. We don't plant them.  We gather them."

When the Native Americans back East planted their nut and fruit trees, as I understand, they were common, but available to the community. There were no fences around the trees.  

Guerrilla gardening is kind of the modern version of this. I have done a bit of this myself.  It sometimes gets poisoned and chopped down by the authorities, but sometimes not.

I think that culturally, we are becoming a people who are more open to these kinds of things.

Many communities in my neck of the woods are becoming ok with edible landscaping and raising chickens, including changing the laws that had banned them before.

I have known many people, including myself, who have made plants mobile in order to potentially protect them from epic freezes that would kill them.

John S
PDX OR


I like the idea of Guerrilla gardening but only in urban areas. I have dabbled with making pollinator and medicinal flower gardens on urban 'wasteland' lots between buildings and parking lots. Oddly I never saw a landscaper when the areas were dirt, littler and a little weeds but within a few months of developing a blooming, beautiful, bee friendly ecosystem there were landscapers there to cut it all down!
What do you think of Guerrilla gardening in more remote areas? Do you think there is any risk of possible invasive species? I know we spend so much time and effort trying to get what we want to eat to grow when and where we want it to grow that it seems unlikely. The invasive kudzu was once grown intentionally. I would hate to disrupt an ecosystem by introducing a non native for food.
 
Gail Jardin
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:I think fruit trees and berries in the communal parks are the best idea for 'nomads' as well as for people living in apartments without any space for gardening.
Here in Meppel we started a narrow strip of 'food-forest' and a veggie garden in the park, approved by the town council. Our group of volunteers (Permacultuur Meppel) does the work that's needed.


This is a lovely idea! How common place is it in your country? I feel that the US is lacking in public and freely gathered food to support the subsidized large farms, but those ideas might get me banned here so I'll leave it at that. I am trying to convince a community garden to form a living hedge of bramble berries and other edibles to help protect it from the critters that eat the food in the garden. This location does not have a fence so there are all sorts of small animals eating the veggies there. My idea was turned down because they could get in legal trouble if there were fruit hanging in a public area and a child with an allergy were to eat it.
 
Gail Jardin
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Eric Tolbert wrote:I just read an article where Atlanta, GA is about to dedicate 7 acres of city land to a free edible landscape/food forest. Sounds like a wonderful idea that should be propagated anywhere there is unused public land.


I agree this is a wonderful idea and should be more common. Do you have a link to the article? I feel that the contribution to the economy by creating new jobs to develop the edible landscape is a great thing! I hope this project works well for the city of Atlanta and becomes a model for other cities.
 
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Here is some info about the Atlanta garden.
 
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I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Felder Rushing, my favorite garden guru, and his pickup truck garden yet!!

"Meanwhile if worst comes to worst and my truck sets me down on the side of the road, while waiting for AAA to come rescue us I have enough vegetables and culinary herbs to eat road kill…"
https://felderrushing.blog/2017/12/28/fastest-garden-on-earth/



It has bottle trees and supposedly has been "documented by the government" (read: local traffic enforcement) as wind resistant up to 81 mph.

Edited to add: truck has been stolen, and returned, not sure what its current iteration is. I saw it years ago at an event. But if any Permie is thinking what I initially thought, you can stop worrying- the garden only takes up part of the bed, there is still plenty of space to throw in hay bales, feed sacks, plywood, etc.
 
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Gail Jardin wrote:Suggestions for a portable garden? Maybe a converted trailer behind an RV? Maybe something that packs up then is in a screen tent or green house for a month at a time? Is the idea even feasible or would it introduce non native species into the final zone? If one is a nomad are their only choices community gardens, woofing and wildcrafting?



All of your suggestions would work.

When we were going from job to job after we sold our homestead, I had the bathtub in the RV filled with potted plants.  Then when we got to our destination, they were outside enjoying their life in the sun.

We always had tomatoes and peppers.  One year, the owner of the place we were at put the them in her greenhouse and we enjoyed tomatoes and peppers through out the winter.

I don't know what all you will be doing (work) or where you will be going though I image that some places might let you have a little spot to garden.  I think I have read here at permies about that.

A lot of plants can be enjoyed in pots.  My lemon balm is in a pot and doing great.  I have walking onions in hanging baskets.
 
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Mike Barkley wrote:Here is some info about the Atlanta garden.


Thanks for the link. I'm interested in following the progress. I wonder what other cities have done this but not have it publicized. I also wonder how many rogue permies there are involved with city landscaping that may sneak in a subtle fruit tree or bush every now and then.
 
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Tereza Okava wrote:I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Felder Rushing, my favorite garden guru, and his pickup truck garden yet!!

"Meanwhile if worst comes to worst and my truck sets me down on the side of the road, while waiting for AAA to come rescue us I have enough vegetables and culinary herbs to eat road kill…"
https://felderrushing.blog/2017/12/28/fastest-garden-on-earth/



It has bottle trees and supposedly has been "documented by the government" (read: local traffic enforcement) as wind resistant up to 81 mph.

Edited to add: truck has been stolen, and returned, not sure what its current iteration is. I saw it years ago at an event. But if any Permie is thinking what I initially thought, you can stop worrying- the garden only takes up part of the bed, there is still plenty of space to throw in hay bales, feed sacks, plywood, etc.


That's pretty interesting looking! Hilarious quote about the road kill too. I don't think I've heard of a truck garden in this context before.
 
Gail Jardin
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Anne Miller wrote:

Gail Jardin wrote:Suggestions for a portable garden? Maybe a converted trailer behind an RV? Maybe something that packs up then is in a screen tent or green house for a month at a time? Is the idea even feasible or would it introduce non native species into the final zone? If one is a nomad are their only choices community gardens, woofing and wildcrafting?



All of your suggestions would work.

When we were going from job to job after we sold our homestead, I had the bathtub in the RV filled with potted plants.  Then when we got to our destination, they were outside enjoying their life in the sun.

We always had tomatoes and peppers.  One year, the owner of the place we were at put the them in her greenhouse and we enjoyed tomatoes and peppers through out the winter.

I don't know what all you will be doing (work) or where you will be going though I image that some places might let you have a little spot to garden.  I think I have read here at permies about that.

A lot of plants can be enjoyed in pots.  My lemon balm is in a pot and doing great.  I have walking onions in hanging baskets.


Anne, I would love to see the set up you had in your RV! I like the idea of a few potted plants that go in and out of the RV. I am hoping to design a small greenhouse like box for along the windshield when stationary. I don't think it could stay in place while driving due to visibility and vibrations. What kind of work did you do on the road? I have a few applications in at farms for next spring and summer. In the past I've been accepted to be a temporary campsite host as well as trail maintenance. I also have a back up job working in app development so as long as my hotspot works I don't need to get paid and can find different jobs where I'm learning new skills and enjoying nature.  
 
Anne Miller
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Gail Jardin wrote:  Anne, I would love to see the set up you had in your RV! I like the idea of a few potted plants that go in and out of the RV.  



The plants were just taking a ride in the bathtub!  Nothing special, not much different than when I put them in the tub at home to be watered while on vacation ... without the water.

Usually we were not far from our next job so the plants were only in the tub a day or two. We usually stayed at places with bath houses so we didn't need the tub for a day or two. The tub kept them from sliding all over the place while the RV was moving.  That brings to mind the scene from Lucille Ball's "Long, Long Trailer" where rocks and can goods slide all over the floor from their hiding places.

I really liked the guy with the truck garden!

I have really enjoyed this thread.  Thanks for starting it.  It has brought back some fond memories!
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Gail Jardin wrote:

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:I think fruit trees and berries in the communal parks are the best idea for 'nomads' as well as for people living in apartments without any space for gardening.
Here in Meppel we started a narrow strip of 'food-forest' and a veggie garden in the park, approved by the town council. Our group of volunteers (Permacultuur Meppel) does the work that's needed.


This is a lovely idea! How common place is it in your country? I feel that the US is lacking in public and freely gathered food to support the subsidized large farms, but those ideas might get me banned here so I'll leave it at that. I am trying to convince a community garden to form a living hedge of bramble berries and other edibles to help protect it from the critters that eat the food in the garden. This location does not have a fence so there are all sorts of small animals eating the veggies there. My idea was turned down because they could get in legal trouble if there were fruit hanging in a public area and a child with an allergy were to eat it.


Hi Gail. No, this isn't common place at all. There are less than a handful of such community gardens/ food forests in this country. We are so lucky to have one lady in our group who knows how to speak with authorities.

Maybe it sounds strange to you but here in the Netherlands wild animals eating fruits or vegetables are very rare! Only dogs running free enter our garden to cause trouble sometimes (the play field for dogs is next to the garden). There are birds in the park, most of them insect eating birds.

I know about the 'legal trouble' in the USA. Here laws are different. A child eating a fruit isn't our responsability.
 
Gail Jardin
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

Gail Jardin wrote:

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:I think fruit trees and berries in the communal parks are the best idea for 'nomads' as well as for people living in apartments without any space for gardening.
Here in Meppel we started a narrow strip of 'food-forest' and a veggie garden in the park, approved by the town council. Our group of volunteers (Permacultuur Meppel) does the work that's needed.


This is a lovely idea! How common place is it in your country? I feel that the US is lacking in public and freely gathered food to support the subsidized large farms, but those ideas might get me banned here so I'll leave it at that. I am trying to convince a community garden to form a living hedge of bramble berries and other edibles to help protect it from the critters that eat the food in the garden. This location does not have a fence so there are all sorts of small animals eating the veggies there. My idea was turned down because they could get in legal trouble if there were fruit hanging in a public area and a child with an allergy were to eat it.


Hi Gail. No, this isn't common place at all. There are less than a handful of such community gardens/ food forests in this country. We are so lucky to have one lady in our group who knows how to speak with authorities.

Maybe it sounds strange to you but here in the Netherlands wild animals eating fruits or vegetables are very rare! Only dogs running free enter our garden to cause trouble sometimes (the play field for dogs is next to the garden). There are birds in the park, most of them insect eating birds.

I know about the 'legal trouble' in the USA. Here laws are different. A child eating a fruit isn't our responsability.


That's wonderful that things are not so overly regulated where you are.  I think more people should plant food in public spaces but it can not be done in many places.
 
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Anne Miller wrote:

Gail Jardin wrote:  Anne, I would love to see the set up you had in your RV! I like the idea of a few potted plants that go in and out of the RV.  



The plants were just taking a ride in the bathtub!  Nothing special, not much different than when I put them in the tub at home to be watered while on vacation ... without the water.

Usually we were not far from our next job so the plants were only in the tub a day or two. We usually stayed at places with bath houses so we didn't need the tub for a day or two. The tub kept them from sliding all over the place while the RV was moving.  That brings to mind the scene from Lucille Ball's "Long, Long Trailer" where rocks and can goods slide all over the floor from their hiding places.

I really liked the guy with the truck garden!

I have really enjoyed this thread.  Thanks for starting it.  It has brought back some fond memories!


Glad I could stir up some good memories of your travels. The bathtub plan sounds simple enough! I would love to have at least enough plants for a daily salad
 
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There were so many places this fall that I passed with wonderful abundant apple harvests in public spaces that no one touched.     I'm not sure what the reasoning is if try to get to the bottom of it.    Many don't know they are edible?   Won't pick it up off the ground?   Don't know how to or when it's ready to pick?  Are afraid "wild" apples are somehow poisonous or dangerous?  Avoiding bees/ wasps?   Maybe a combination of all of that.    It was frustrating to see so much available going to waste.   Maybe I just didn't see whatever portions may have been picked up by the homeless or folks passing by.    I did stop by with a small bag and gather a bagful for my rabbit.  

Now that I'm back in the city I've been pursuing information on starting or taking over a community garden space with plans for orchards, etc.   Wondering how to get folks more interested in actually utilizing free food.  Maybe they simply need to be told.
 
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Heather Staas wrote:
There were so many places this fall that I passed with wonderful abundant apple harvests in public spaces that no one touched.     I'm not sure what the reasoning is if try to get to the bottom of it.  



I wouldn't pick them up off the floor- off the tree sure! It isn't unknown here for people to try to poison/hurt dogs in the park by putting pins in sausages- I wouldn't trust people to not have spiked the fruit somehow! Sad but it does happen (I don't live in a very nice area).
 
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all you need is a way of holding dirt, really. I've seen PVC pipe cut in half for shallow rooted salad mixes and the like. An IBC tote cut in half would give you a nice depth, though of course it is plastic. Weight would become an issue at some point, but I feel the space would be an issue first. Search PVC gardening, and you'll see some of what I mean. put a layer of gravel in the PVC and a slight slope and it'll even drain well. if you go with a minimalist hole approach it'd probably hold moisture well too.

An awning system could be used to catch water, this guy has a good system  here https://www.sailmagazine.com/cruising/an-awning-rain-catcher

What you can grow would be limited by container size -- something like potatoes needs a large container, and melons might pose a difficulty but most vegetables would be within your reach.

Raised garden beds could also be used, as long as you have a solid base that won't leak.

Apples on the ground are far more likely to have started fermenting or be eaten by bugs. pick them off the tree a little under ripe and ripen them in your house I would say.
 
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When I was in college, the campus sidewalks were lined with red leaved plumtrees.  Eventually I realized there were huge quantities of small, tasty plums hiding among leaves the same color.  (I never took more than a gallon or two at a time, never commercial quantities).  I never asked permission and no one ever commented, but I gathered a lot of plums in season and also snacked on them daily as I walked around campus.  
I always figured I was acting in a way the designers secretly hoped people would.   If I had asked for permission, someone may have worried about liability issues and said no.  As it was, I left them wiggle room to ignore my actions.  I was always surprised more students didn't pick them though.
 
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I am a prepper and I watch many many prepper channels on youtube.       One thing of interest to me was one account of the early indians  that when they would travel following the buffalo  they would plant gardens along the trail.     They would not be there to tend them but when they would come back there would be food along the trail.      This has made me think of what can we plant that we could just plant it and walk away and come back to food.        


I am sure if we thought about it if we travel the same route all the time we could plant gardens along the way that would be there for us the next time we take the journey that direction.

 
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Gail Jardin wrote:Suggestions for a portable garden? Maybe a converted trailer behind an RV? Maybe something that packs up then is in a screen tent or green house for a month at a time? Is the idea even feasible or would it introduce non native species into the final zone? If one is a nomad are their only choices community gardens, woofing and wildcrafting?



May I recommend microgreens? There’s this channel in YouTube that I love ❤️ “Hydroponic gardening and more with Brent”  https://www.youtube.com/user/C3Voyage
He has a way of planting that maximizes yields and uses no growing medium (so better in the pocketbook) and microgreens only require light at the final stage to turn the leaves green. You should check it out.
 
Gail Jardin
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Vanessa Alarcon wrote:

Gail Jardin wrote:Suggestions for a portable garden? Maybe a converted trailer behind an RV? Maybe something that packs up then is in a screen tent or green house for a month at a time? Is the idea even feasible or would it introduce non native species into the final zone? If one is a nomad are their only choices community gardens, woofing and wildcrafting?



May I recommend microgreens? There’s this channel in YouTube that I love ❤️ “Hydroponic gardening and more with Brent” https://www.youtube.com/user/C3Voyage
He has a way of planting that maximizes yields and uses no growing medium (so better in the pocketbook) and microgreens only require light at the final stage to turn the leaves green. You should check it out.


Yes! Since moving into a tiny space I've taken to growing tiny things. I prefer growing real veggies but have a mini aquaponics tank that can fit in the kitchen sink when moving. I also try to keep a few jars of sprouts on hand. I suppose I grow enough microgreens and sprouts to be a serving a day, possibly two. I hadn't even brought it up because I've been so accustom to the micro garden it's not even like gardening in some ways, more like my ferment jars I have around.
 
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