City dwellers longing to grow their own produce can learn a lot from Gary and Katie Bachman 's urban garden in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. On less than 1/10 of an acre, the Bachmans' Heritage Cottage Urban Nano Farm yields enough fresh vegetables and herbs to supply three local restaurants and a weekly farmers market, as well as the Bachmans' own needs. The produce is grown in container gardens, including 111 EarthBoxes
"We started in 2009 with 5 EarthBoxes," reports Katie Bachman , "and it just grew exponentially. Last year, we harvested 600 pounds of tomatoes, five pounds of basil a week, and loads of lettuce, eggplant and peppers. We rotate the crops, so there's something growing all the time."
In addition to selling produce, the Bachmans offer transplants at the farmers market, and give tours of the Urban Nano Farm to demonstrate how it's done. "We show people you don't need a big two acre garden," explains Katie. "By growing in containers, you can enjoy your own urban garden in a very small space."
The Bachmans have found that container gardening is not only space-efficient, but it also increases yields by providing ideal growing conditions. The EarthBox containers have built-in water reservoirs, making it impossible to over- or under-water. They come with mulch covers that retain moisture and eliminate the need for weeding.
Once the containers are set up, replanting is easy. "Each season I mix in a little fresh growing media to replace any that has been removed with the previous crop," says Katie. "I have Earthboxes that were originally filled in 2008 that are still producing well."
The Bachmans recommend that new urban gardeners start small and expand gradually. They post frequent advice on the Heritage Cottage Urban Nano Farm Facebook page, as well as the EarthBox forum.
With 80% of the US population living in metropolitan areas, urban gardens like the Bachmans' are an ever-increasing source of affordable food and healthy living, even for those living in small spaces.