Just because you live in a city doesn’t mean you can’t while away the summer hours working the land in a garden of your own. Many city-dwellers are creating gardens out of empty lots and other undeveloped city spaces. But this practice has its own set of uniquely urban challenges.
I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
“Urban gardening is a special trade in itself; you can ask anybody.”
Phil Tietz is the Associate Director of Green Guerrillas in New York City.
“The biggest difference for us is not enough space, never enough space. We do composting differently sometimes because there’s not enough space, we grow different kinds of plants, we do intensive vegetable cropping because there’s not enough space. We go vertical; we grow stuff on the walls; we let it trail down from the balconies. We grow a lot of vines. All this because there’s not enough space. There’re also a lot of shady spaces in the city, so you have to be ready for that.”
And as city gardeners turn their corner of the concrete jungle into an oasis of green, some find that the soil in which they’re working still bears the scars of its previous incarnation.
“One of the special things, typically, about a garden in a city like New York, is that the soil that you’re starting with is urban rubble. It’s actually from, typically, a brick building that was torn down so what you end up with is what gardeners call having really well drained soil, which is putting it mildly. The water just percolates straight down. And surprisingly this makes it really easy to grow things like willow trees, that put their roots down really, really fast. But things that grow just with shallow roots, on top of the soil, you really have to enrich the soil a lot to get these things to grow.”
For transcripts of this and other programs in our series, please visit our web site at www.pulseplanet.com.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.