Gardening is often pitched as a relaxing, therapeutic activity—and it is relaxing and therapeutic!
But it’s also a sign of how advanced society has become that we can regard growing food as a charming hobby instead of an absolute necessity.
On the one hand, that’s a clear sign of mankind’s mastery over the world. On the other, it’s left us remarkably dependent on a system of farming and delivery logistics that has been shown to be distressingly fragile.
Anyone who has ever successfully grown a tomato plant in their backyard has wondered if they could go “off-grid,” grow their own food, and be done with their local supermarket. The answer is yes, but that’s the wrong question.
The question isn’t whether it’s possible—the question is how. It’s all about the logistics: How much space do you need to grow enough crops to feed you and your family? Math will help you figure this one out.
This past year has seen a surge of moves to the suburbs, time spent on balconies and in yards, and home cooking, which inevitably also led to people thinking about growing their own food.
Growing herbs and vegetables doesn’t have to take up an entire yard or require a farmer’s touch, either. Everyday people (you!) can successfully feed themselves fresh homegrown produce, no matter how big or small the outdoor space.
I checked in with two plant experts, Nadia Hassani, plant author and Penn State Master Gardener, and Tim McSweeney, Food52 design director and backyard farmer extraordinaire, to find out the best starter produce for growing in containers.