Urban Containment

Two city gardens—one beautiful, one edible— demonstrate their command of containers.

An Edible Sanctuary
Photo by Craig Bares

Going Veggie in the City? Consider the Following:

The Rabbit
• “Enemy No. 1,” says MacDonald, especially on new, tender lettuce. Solutions? Chicken-wire screens and chicken-wire barriers around three sides of the yard. “On the fourth side, we have a motion-activated sprinkler called The Scarecrow (available locally at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights). We point it right at the lettuce patch.” (Bonus: It keeps dogs out, too.)
Another easy tip: “We plant lettuce in tall pots rabbits can’t reach.”

The Soil
•“Vegetable gardens are all about soil,” says MacDonald. “If the soil is good, the garden is going to look good.” MacDonald and his wife got theirs from Dale Green Company located in Burnsville. “I said, ‘Give us the best stuff you have.’” It was expensive—and worth it.

The Compost
• “We compost everything. We have compost bins in the front and back yards,” says MacDonald. One is a Biostack (Scotts brand) purchased at Home Depot, with three stackable sections for easy turning. The other is a Lifetime Compost Tumbler (available locally at Costco and Home Depot) that rotates on an axis. In both you’ll end up with the same thing—the fertilizer you need to grow veggies, plus a place for scraps and yard waste.

The Known Winners
• “It’s not the best idea to go in for the newfangled products in the seed catalog,” says MacDonald, who has himself been seduced by what he calls “the experimental stuff.” Instead, he says, “We end up getting the best harvest out of the old standbys.” Brussels sprouts, early squash, collard greens—all the things your mother and grandmother said you should eat.

The Sun
• You can’t grow food without it.