Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Illicit Rooftop Gardening

Growing my own food- I strongly believe that in order to live sustainably we need to try to keep our food as local as possible. Personally, buying organic bananas that have been shipped thousands of miles to my plate doesn't sound very sustainable at all.

Although I know I can't personally grow a whole lot in an "urban" garden, I feel like a small container with real food growing is a contribution to changing the culture of what is considered "urban" and "rural" behaviour. That and my last three urban dreams have drifted down the bug infested, dead toilet.

 (Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market from upper level)

So I'm setting my standards low.

A problem with our current apartment, although a dream in a heritage building, there was no balcony. No growing space except for this ridiculous green patch which the exhaust fumes of the cars parked in the driveway spew onto. No fumigated food thank you very much.

At the end of last summer, though, I found out from my neighbour that she sunbathes on the roof... YES! that would be perfect- I would sneak up there with a container and make a rooftop garden.

 The beautiful peg and dowel garden box! It was a cinch to put together!

 A month ago I found a local farmer at the market who was selling these uber cool wooden peg and dowel garden boxes. He hand mills them and the wood is all Forest Stewardship Certified. After checking with my dad on price and whether it would cost less for him to make me some (haha, forever the fisherman's daughter)- no it wouldn't- I bought a small one. My favourite part? It will easily come apart for storage at the end of the season. In a Halifax heritage building, storage is treasured.

 The fire escape UP (and our living room window behind there) and DOWN...

Sunday, Andrew and I finally decided it was time to foray into the illicit rooftop garden world. Firstly; the neighbours. Our fire escape, the entrance to the roof, goes directly by two levels of windows. It was a perfect opportunity to meet a new third floor neighbour! We bought a bag of organic potting soil, some lettuce starters and hot peppers from the Farmer's Market (they're supposed to be easy to grow here in Nova Scotia) and pretty viola flowers. Just because.
The view from the roof!

Two trips up and we had everything on the roof. Unfortunately I hadn't counted on my fear of heights as something to consider. Those steps are narrow and steep and well... I really don't like being high up. Watering should become an adventure.

Another thing I hadn't considered once up there: just how beautiful our view was! We can see the Atlantic ocean from our roof. I had the sudden urge to practice yoga- which was sad since I'm *really* sure that would be frowned upon.
Our little planter! The beauty is the bag can stay, discouraging cats and bugs!

All planted up and a quick water later and tahdah! My very own tiny little urban garden box, complete with pretty flowers for some urban bees to snack on. Since it's rained today, I've only been up there to water and check on the little box once. We'll see how it turns out, but I am immensely proud of my own little food sustainable project. :)


Article and photographs copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com


  1. rooftop gardening can be a little harder here because you often have to climb a ladder onto the roof which makes carrying water up almost impossible. but that doesn't stop people from having parties on roofs here! why do you feel like you couldn't do yoga on the roof? would anyone actually be able to see you? and that view certainly doesn't look "urban"!

  2. ps the organization i'm working for now helped found and certifies FSC forests!

  3. But you wanted to practise! That's a good thing :) Good luck with your garden.


  4. good for you!!! i was surprised how well hot peppers grow here in oregon - serranos gone nuts! btw with lettuce, get yourself a packet of seeds, so when the first starts are done you can plant more (they are SO easy to plant by seed and super cheap!)

  5. Awesome! Now maybe you can do two things at once...garden and get over that pesky fear:) Nice to catch up on your blog, I've been out and about lately.

  6. I love it! Gardening is fun, especially when you have no expectations!

  7. This is completely FANTASTIC!

  8. Love! Love! Love! I live in a warehouse and I am convincing my boyfriend to build me a garden. He has been slow moving but now reading this I may just have to become handy lady and build it myself. Thanks for the inspiration. I will post pictures once mine is done. I am hoping to have veggies, fruits and herbs. Mmmmmm.

  9. hey, sounds awesome & fun!
    I have seen a good way for roof-top gardening & green roofs done with those hard-sided kiddie pools. Would take a few more trips up & down though...
    Good luck!

  10. Nice spot! You should totally do yoga up there!

    Once the sun comes out it will be really HOT up there so you will need to water you shallow plot a lot...for sure every day! Pepper plants will be happy but I wouldn't grow food that needs a lot of water to produce fruit (like squash). Maybe cherry tomatoes! Lettuce is easy but will bolt and become bitter if it is too hot...

    It will be trial and error to see what does well but it will be fun! :) Happy gardening!

  11. Awesome! Love it :) Are you just going to keep with one or add any more to it? Just stare at the building on your up and down trips to water. And you DEFINITELY should do some yoga up there ;)


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