How do you grow food when you have no yard?

Marjory Wildcraft
Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,541 admin
edited October 2020 in The Urban Gardener

So how do you grow food when you have no yard? I found myself in this situation my rental in Puerto Rico is way too shady to grow food and doesn't have a lot of space.

But growing food is so important. So what to do? There are a TON of options if you are in this situation. In this video I show you two possibilities: guerrilla gardening and foraging.

Have you ever tried guerrilla gardening? And I'm sure you've foraged a little bit...

Share some tips for our community below!


  • karenjanicki
    karenjanicki Posts: 947 ✭✭✭✭

    That's a great topic and one that many like myself need to have a good knowledge of. I have a tiny slice of space in suburbs on leased land so putting in beds isn't really an option. However I was blessed with a large porch so we have a rather large container garden going on. It looks a bit like a jungle haha. And these days foraging is such an important and valuable resource that everyone should be familiar with. Thanks!

  • naomi.kohlmeier
    naomi.kohlmeier Posts: 380 ✭✭✭

    Great topic! I guess I've always had a yard or field of some sort to plant a garden. That being said, I've always got plants going indoors. I like to forage when possible. My family tolerates it :) They don't usually complain, though!

  • Granny Marie
    Granny Marie Posts: 53 ✭✭✭

    My best friend grows everything is large pots on her front porch. She has about 6 of them and grows lettuce and radishes in the early spring, tomatos, peppers, cucumbers, and yellow squash during the summer. Then back to the lettuce and radishes in the fall. She does pretty good with stuff to eat but not a lot to preserve. I bring her compost from one of my piles and we replace about half the dirt in each pot every winter.

  • Cherlynn
    Cherlynn Posts: 169 ✭✭✭

    Years ago I lived in a tiny apartment with my husband in Japan. I grew carrots, lettuce in containers in my window seal. Once established it gave us a fresh salad once or twice a week. My daughter used a shoe bag that hangs on the back of a door to grow short rooted plants in her apartment.

  • HearthForYou
    HearthForYou Posts: 52 ✭✭✭

    @Cherlynn I love the shoe bag idea. Are short rooted plants basically any vegetable besides roots and squashes?

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have a huge patio and great landlords that let me do just about anything I want. Businesses that get bulk quantities of food products are a good source of 5-gallon buckets. With a drill and a little paint, they make perfect pots.

  • Angel
    Angel Posts: 61 ✭✭✭

    When we lived in an apartment with no outdoor space whatsoever, we did grow herbs in the windows. It wasn't much, but it was nice to have fresh herbs.

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My neighbors across the street have a strip of land between their fence and the street. So, I asked them how they felt about me taking care of it and planting stuff. They said to go for it, so I did. I have a challenge on my hands because the dirt is almost dead. It is, however, full of lambs quarter and wild amaranth. I plan on improving the soil with cover crops and keeping them trimmed back. That way, the neighbors won't strip the soil bare like they do every year.

  • Sharie
    Sharie Posts: 276 ✭✭✭

    I lived on a rocky island for one season and had to bring in soil and big pots. The deer got most of it, even jumping over a 6 foot electric fence until my friend got the deer and then we had organic deer for the next six months. Not what I expected but nature can be pretty random! When I was living in a more urban area, I kept worms for compost and just grew a few plants in containers like tomatoes and herbs. Even growing herbs in a windowsill is a step up from store-bought, plastic wrapped food.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,201 ✭✭✭✭

    For once i am grateful that I am the apartment closest to the street and have a little bit of dirt to dig in. i planted greens this year and I am thinking that I will need to plant something in place of the rose plant we take out so the property management or owner don't plant a bush or some other large plants in there. I have designs on that space.

    This space will be on the east side where there is a lot of sunshine. Does anyone have suggestions for the winter months of something to plant?

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @dipat2005 What zone are you in and how cold does it get in the space you want to plant in?

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,201 ✭✭✭✭

    @Tave 8b and normally temperate but last night it was 23 degrees. It was COLD!! Average winter temperature 15 to 20 degrees.

  • Thomas
    Thomas Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    I agree with Granny Marie; pots, large pots. At least that is what I have seen around me. Talking to people that do it, they seem to really like it.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @dipat2005 any greens do well in colder weather, possiblt scallions or onions. carrots if its warm enough to sprout the seeds.

    Do you have warmer days?

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @dipat2005 Some kale can handle down to 10°F, definitely 20°F. Other cold-hearty vegetables are spinach, collards, Swiss chard, and carrots. People don't usually think of flowers as being edible, but pansies are beautiful, cold-tolerant, and go well in salads.

    If the plants are by a wall that is heated by the sun during the day, it may keep them warm enough, especially if you cover them on the nights that go below 20°.

  • lewis.mary.e
    lewis.mary.e Posts: 225 ✭✭✭

    Last March before we could plant any leafy greens, we bought a planter already full of baby leafy greens. We put it on a shelf in our skylight and cut some for salad when they were big enough. We also made makeshift greenhouses out of small plastic bins and set them in front of the sunniest windows in the house to start seeds. Then we set them on a desk with lights above them to prevent the seedlings from getting leggy.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,201 ✭✭✭✭

    @Tave thank you for the cold hardy vegie ideas. I left a the kale outside and it has some serious white on the leaves which I usually rinse off before cooking. It appears to be a type of fungus. @lewis.mary.e I brought in some spinach and swiss chard from outside to see how they might do inside. I have a very sunny south facing window I am using and so far so good. The test will be when Oregon weather turns rainy and there is no sun. They are green and healthy looking and so far I have plenty of greens.

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @dipat2005 The same thing happened to my arugula (another cold-hardy plant). I looked it up, and it is a fungus. The best solution was not to use the same dirt for the brassica family two years in a row. Picking the infected leaves kept it under control. (I just rinsed them off and used them, too.) I planted my kale and arugula in a different pot this year, and there's been no problem. Another option might be to bake the dirt until the temperature reaches 180°F to kill off the fungus.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,201 ✭✭✭✭

    @Tave I just brought in some of the kale yesterday and I will see how it does inside versus outside. I plan to be cooking the kale and other greens next week. My favorite plan is to rinse them and place them into a plastic bag with a paper towel. They stay moist and are perfect for steaming or whatever if you don't have time to eat them right away. I have some greens packaged this way from two weeks ago. I plan to eat those tonight. i just couldn't eat them all at once. I did have some of the leaves turn yellow but that is the first time from the last several years of keeping them this way.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,468 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It has been a challenge, moving from a rented house with a BIG, fenced yard. The landlords encouraged me to plant fruit trees and make a garden. I was so lucky.

    When I moved from Idaho back to Missouri to be near my 81 year old mom and my sister, I had to give that up. Small apartment with s small concrete patio. I'll be doing pots next spring!

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @dipat2005 Way to go! I love kale.

  • soeasytocraft
    soeasytocraft Posts: 237 ✭✭✭

    Outdoor space is not a limitation where I live. But our 5 months of long cold winter brings gardening to a grinding halt! ! must say having a break is a lovely treat. That said it isn't long until I'm itching to get something growing.

    At the very least I get some seeds sprouting and maybe a few pots of herbs growing. Short days with sun at a low angle makes grow lights a must.

    Having lots of preserved veggies and a cold storage area is a blessing when the deep freeze hits.

  • John
    John Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    Don't know how it might apply to others, but several cities in Wisconsin, (including mine) have ways to use your boulevard and front yard area by your walkup, etc. for growing vegetables-different rules apply as to types, height of plants, distance from sidewalks etc, but might be worth checking out. Best everyone! Have a great year gardening in 2021!