While this is not the most action-packed season for gardening, the Paris Paysanne shouldn't prevent themselves from letting their imagination go wild as Winter approaches. As I've been watering my black radishes and sowing seeds for lettuce, my mind has turned towards creative ways to contain and nurture my balcony garden.
Even though the pretty standard planter box that we found at Castorama (25 euro, pictured at right) proved to be a great home to our summer tomatoes and is holding up as a humble abode for my radishes this season, I was inspired by the creative solutions for gardening in tight spaces that I saw during my tour of the shared gardens of the 18th arrondisement . Most notably, I appreciated these gardens' use of straw baskets to grow everything from leafy greens to viney wall crawlers.
The baskets are salvaged in various states of wear and tear from the African open air market, Marché Dejean, which takes place in the mornings and early afternoons in the 18th's Chateau Rouge neighborhood. The baskets provide mobile and adaptable growing space as well as charming décor for many of the shared gardens located in this part of Paris.
Thus, I was inspired to mount my own salvation army and see what kind of trash I could turn into a garden treasure. Turns out, I didn't have to look too far. On the street where I live, many of the greengrocers and other markets have their goods delivered in wooden crates that fit snugly on my balcony. They are light, and therefore easy to abscond with once one is spotted, and come in a variety of sizes, so you can try to find one that seems tailor-made for your space.
I am currently growing lettuce in one such crate, to which my cat was kind enough to contribute a litter-box liner, so that I could keep in the soil. After the first set of heavy rains arrived, I realized I need to both irrigate the soil (I did this by poking holes into the liner so that the water could leak out) as well as raise the crate off the ground so that the water wouldn't just puddle underneath the lined crate. So far, so good- but I think I might have to cover the crate because the rain doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
This is admittedly a pretty rookie approach to DIY garden solutions, but if your interested in more sophisticated home-made projects, I highly recommend you check out the Urban Organic Gardener site. This (more often than not) shirtless dude is dedicated to gardening in similarly restrictive spaces, such as New York fire escapes, and has come up with some awesome solutions to cheap, creative, and size-wise growing containers, including building a shipping palette herb garden, soda bottle hanging planters, and self-watering containers.
I'd also like to make a call for stories of Paris Paysannes who want to share their gardening projects on the blog. I am looking forward to building a community of urban farmers that I hope to showcase as part of a project that will be unveiled soon. Pictures, stories, advice and experiences are all welcome contributions!
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