Friday, May 10, 2013

Suburban Vegetable Gardening Gone Wild

Beautiful new garage with roof top garden. ©2013BDG
A friend recently introduced me to someone who has true passion for vegetable gardening in limited space.  This new friend of mine has built a vegetable garden on the roof of her new garage!  

They recently rebuilt the garage with the intention of putting a deck on its roof to grow vegetables and keep bees.  It is a tasteful and beautiful use of the space on display for the whole neighborhood.  Unfortunately, not everyone liked the proposed idea and tried to block its construction.   In the end, the roof top was built and it is a statement for a movement of people growing their own food.

Garden with early transplants and tomatoes in
water tubes. ©2013BDG
Check out this article on a Montreal couple who were told to dig up their front yard vegetable garden because of ridiculous local restrictions. 

As the trend of knowing where your food comes from continues, Farmer's Markets and local vegetable stands are becoming a part of people's regular weekly shopping.  Farm Shares, where growers deliver a weekly 'Box' of what is in season are now the norm.


A veeeery cool organic farm in Lincoln with a lots of pick your own veggies and fruit:  Blue Heron Organic Farm

More and more people are starting to really work at growing some or all of their vegetables in season, and while you don't have to be as adventurous with a roof top garden, a small plot to grow a few basics can go a long way to connecting you to your food.  And the most awesome part of this garden, is that her children love to work in the garden and are learning to harvest and cook what they grow.

Another cool part of the set-up is the rain barrel that you see in the ground level photo.  She has a pump that brings that water back up to the roof to irrigate the vegetables.  Maybe we can all aspire to bring our food back home and grow some favorites.

My modest raised bed with lettuce blend and first
row of radish and carrot.  Arugula just germinating
in far left row.  ©2013BDG
I was on the 'roof' last week and most of her indoor crop was out.  The weather in New England has been  tremendous this spring, but were are still three weeks away from being frost free.  If we are lucky maybe we can get some early crops while avoiding frost damage.  

I pushed the timelines on sowing my lettuce, carrots, radish and arugula, with the hope that the weather would cooperate.  If it turned bad and wiped everything out then I would have started again.  This weekend I sowed my second round of carrots and radish.  Next week I'll sow the bush beans and put in the herbs.   As you can see in my modest raised bed, I'll be harvesting some lettuce in the next couple of weeks!

Simple honey bee hive in action.  ©2013BDG
A funny story from my visit: Having worked in gardens professionally for over 15 years, I don't recall ever being stung by a honey bee.   Wasps, Hornets, Yellow Jackets are a different story, but the honey bee is such a docile insect.  As we entered the roof garden, one of the honey bees returning to the hive got stuck in my friends hair, and upon release from her long blond hair, immediately attached to my left eyebrow and made me pay the price.  Despite my encounter,  what a great idea to have a small hive for honey and pollination right on the garage roof.

You don't have to build gardens as involved to grow your own food.  Many vegetables and all herbs can be grown in containers on decks and terraces, and for a few dollars its worth a try.


  1. I guess it could tell you were just a 'wanna bee' rooftop gardener, Reed. Great to see gardening winning out against the NIMBY set who, sadly, will never be stung by a bee in their acres of lawn and neat conifers.

  2. I love this idea...I grow earlier if the weather permits under row covers....I grow in raised beds and containers/grow bags for more room.

    1. A local farm grows greens, carrots and radishes all winter in the ground, in an unheated hoop house, with added covers overnight. It is a little work, but winter carrots are amazingly sweet.

  3. The rooftop garden is fabulous, what a great way to use the space.
    I'm visiting from Blooming Blogs.

  4. The raised beds are a great idea, especially if you don't have the space. I would love to have that set up on our roof, I'm curious though, what do you do for drainage?

  5. I am reminded of a similar situation that had a happier outcome. A couple in a neighborhood not far from me planted a lovely vegetable garden in their front yard. They had a very attractive design and even surrounded it with a nice split rail fence. There were questions at first, but eventually the neighbors were won over, and there was even a complimentary article in the local newspaper. The veggie garden became something of a local attraction. Down here, we love our veggies!

  6. I really like her innovative water source (the rain barrel). Having a garden so high off the ground definitely presents a problem for watering but it looks like her creativity took over and solved the problem

  7. I love this and am thrilled that her asinine neighbors weren't able to restrict her garden. :o)

  8. Wow! That rooftop garden is awesome! Your raised bed looks great, too. It will be nice to enjoy fresh salad greens this summer. Here in Texas, lettuce is a winter crop.