Do you live in an apartment and feel you don’t have space to garden? A salad bar stand can fit in small places on the sunny side of buildings, under the overhang of the roof, or on a balcony, providing a steady supply of fresh salad greens and herbs for the family.
We made our stands from recycled construction materials painted with waterproof paint so they’ll last many years. Planting pots made from recycled plastic or recycled plastic containers are ideal for growing greens at the salad bar.
You’ll also need potting soil to grow healthy greens: many families can make their own compost soil right at home from kitchen waste, leaves and grass clippings, although apartment-dwellers may need to buy some good quality potting soil at the local nursery. Lombricompost, which is made by earthworms, is the best type of potting soil.
Seeds are often available at nurseries, as well as agricultural supply centers. Some gardeners obtain organic seeds from abroad. You can collect rainwater and use that to water the salad bar greens, which helps to keep the cost down.
Small urban gardens can be very productive, and growing some of your own food is a great way to take charge of your health. You can use virtually every square foot of your space, including your lateral space: hanging baskets are ideal for a wide variety of foods, such as tomatoes, leafy greens, runner beans and a variety of herbs. Window boxes can hold herbs, greens, radishes, scallions, bush beans, chard, and chile peppers.
Just start small, and as you get the hang of it, add another container with a new plant. Before you know it, you’ll find that a good portion of your salads can come from your own edible garden.
Food grown in your own garden is fresher and more nutritious than store-bought food, and tastes better as well — and you can’t beat the price! Urban gardens are also key to saving energy, protecting water quality and topsoil, and promoting biodiversity, all while beautifying densely populated communities.
Many a gardener will attest to the sense of well-being obtained from getting your hands in the dirt, and the pleasure of accomplishment that comes from eating your own home-grown food.
We hope you’ll join us this year in the wonderful world of gardening in Costa Rica. Until next time… ¡pura vida!
Read more of Ed Bernhardt’s monthly Home Gardening columns here.