growing food in a rental


  • Speak to your landlord. Although most leases stipulate that you must leave a garden in the same condition as you found it (which implies you can do what you like in the meantime), it’s best to initiate conversation regarding your modest plans and intention to leave no trace of your gardening forays when it’s time to move on. Most home owners will welcome pots, small containers, and perhaps even a small square plot against a fence. A few pieces of turf at the end of your lease is a small price to pay for a year long’s bounty of fresh food.
  • Wander your neighbourhood in search for a “surrogate” veggie patch. Perhaps a neighbour is an avid grower and would happily loan you a small patch of their earth. And your small selection of greens could be traded for their lemons. Growing a garden is as much about growing community as it is about the plants in the soil.
  • Embrace container gardening. Be it some frugal tins, buckets and pots or larger raised beds (formerly apple crates, polystyrene vegetable boxes from your local green grocer or second-hand colour bond contraptions), containers will make your growing season almost invisible to the next tenants as well as ensuring your hard work can come with you on your next adventure.
  • Invest in a small compost bin. Often found secondhand, this will not only provide you with a way to recycle your kitchen scraps but also create a rich compost stew for your hungry vegetables. When your lease ends you can simply empty your compost onto the existing gardens or gift it to friends, hose out the bin and you’re on your way.
  • Investigate the “no dig” method of gardening where a veritable layered cake of compost, newspaper, straw and manure is assembled in your container. No trailer loads of good quality soil needed and all that you need can fit quite easily in the boot of your car.
  • And if all else fails, find a sunny spot inside and fill old pots with herbs. A melange of higgedly piggedly pots resting on thrifted china saucers on a sunny sill is all kinds of lovely. And if there isn’t a windowsill, consider moving a table or set of shelves under the window and cover their surface with a jungle of green and growing things.


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