My NYC Fire Escape Garden

Growing your own food is easy, responsible, and super tasty. Plus, you don’t need that much space. Just utilize your imagination!

Reasons why growing your own food rocks:

  1. Lessen your carbon footprint by growing some things yourself. (Remember… those tomatoes at PathMart didn’t grow there. They grew hundreds of miles away. They hitched a ride on a huge truck across the country.)
  2. It’s cheaper to grow your own herbs than to keep buying those small packets. Plus, you only use about half of it before it goes off and you have to throw the thing away.
  3. Wanna be healthier? If you’ve grown it… you’ll eat it. Anything that makes us eat more fruits and veggies is a good thing.
  4. It forces you to be outdoors. Or, kind of outdoors. Anyway, you’ll probably get a little vitamin D from this activity.
  5. Monsanto can’t get you if you know where your food is coming from. (Make sure your seeds and seedlings are not genetically altered or modified.)
  6. You’ll reduce food waste. If you’ve waited for something to ripen on a vine that you take care of… you’re less likely to let it spoil and throw it out. That’s not really the case with that stupid banana that has gross brown spots you paid 50 cents for, right? That guy is going to spoil and get thrown out.
  7. It doesn’t take up that much time. I’d equate it to caring for fish in a tank.
  8. I sound like a hippie, but it’s fun. It turned fun. I don’t know how. Just kinda snuck up on me.

I can hear you say, “Well, I don’t have a backyard with room for a garden. I have no space!”

Dude. I live in New York City. I don’t have access to a yard… but I do use every inch of outdoorsey-type space I’ve got!

My First Fire Escape Garden:

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Chilis, mint, tomatoes, basil, lettuce. YUM!

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The tomatoes had a lovely view!

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Big bowl of lettuce.

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A look at the chili plants… grown from a seed from New Mexico, grown in Memphis, seeded and grown in England, and now planted and growing in NYC. I still have these chili plants, and they still produce chilies.

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At the bottom right, you can get a good look at the chocolate mint going wild. You have to plant it in its own container, or it will completely take over. I still have this chocolate mint plant, though it’s now in a bigger pot.

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These turn into tomatoes. Delicious.

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Grown-up lettuce bowl.

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One of the tomatoes coming in.

Kitchen “Seedling” Area:

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This is where the chilies started life in NYC.

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Chili plant starting up in a plastic cup. Lettuce growing out of an old tomato can.

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I like making my own tabs for the plants.

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Ripening tomatoes in a bag is the way to go, hence, my Magic Tomato Ripening Device.

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Before the tomatoes go into the chokey to ripen. #matilda

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The first chili plant seedling.

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I used the plastic cups and tiny ziplocks as a greenhouse for the chili seeds to grow. All done indoors by my kitchen sink.

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It’s rather badass using tomato, basil, chili, and lettuce you friggin’ GREW YOURSELF to make sandwiches and tomato salad with.

But, Alas, Wintertime:

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The tomato plants, unfortunately, only last one spring/summer/fall, so I left them outside.

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But the chili plants and chocolate mint last a lot longer than one year, so they got their own spare-bedroom window area during the snow :)

Current Apartment Garden Ingenuity:

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I now live in a duplex, so I’ve got my own front door and entry area. It’s perfect for a make-shift veggie and herb garden! I have two black racks I constructed and pushed together to fit the area and get the plants up in the sun.

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The bright green thing has a slit up the middle so it can sit on a balcony. I keep thyme and rosemary in it.

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looking down into the various contraptions I’m growing things out of.

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This big bucket of basil and cherry tomatoes I can move around with the sun.

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Hey, little guy!

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Growing tomatoes out of a tin can? Yup.

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Three of the chili plants outside Chef B’friend’s office window. Hey, you gotta use any space you can that gets sun!

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Lettuce, sage, and more lettuce growing out on the ledge out of my office.

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Two chili plants and the chocolate mint outside one of the living room windows. Yes, that’s right by the New York City sidewalk. I measured the space at the bottom of each “safety cage” and got wood cut at the Home Depot for the plants to sit on.

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View from the street of my office garden and Chef B’friend’s office garden.

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Close-up of the sidewalk garden.

Here’s the point: I’ve got just the tiniest amount of space to grow this stuff. I also just started learning last year how to do it… I’m not an expert. I had no previous experience. I had the sun and Google. If I can do it, you can do it!

Do YOU have a garden? What kind of space restrictions are YOU dealing with? Leave a comment!

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3 thoughts on “My NYC Fire Escape Garden

  1. Megan says:

    Love this and you are so right! In Memphis I have built 4 very large raised boxes.

    Was limited to crop choice as I didn’t have enough time to germinate seedlings only direct sow….

    Your fire escape crops are looking amazing!!!!! Way better than mine-

    Growing (more like attempting) bell peppers, squash, zucchini,cucumbers, peppers, zinnas, sunflowers, corn and okra! Ill keep you posted… Hope to get ready for fall though and plant lettuce, beets, etc. need all tips/ help I can get!

    Love your recipes and blog! I’m checking it daily!
    Please call me next time you are in M-town. Could really use your help in my garden!!

    • So jealous of your raised boxes, Megan!!! Your garden sounds awesome! Take pictures and share!

      I’ll let you know next time I’m in town.

      Thanks for the support! Share with any of your friends you think may dig it ;)

      -Whitney

  2. […] from your local Farmers Market, or grow your own tomatoes. I do it, and it’s not […]

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