Urban gardening is a very useful practice to learn. It is a skill that can be used at nearly any home in any location, no matter the size of the yard you have to contend with. Gardening this way maximizes the efficiency at which space is used, therefore allowing very small places to contain much more than they could with normal gardening techniques.
One example of this style of gardening that we use in the Colgate Community Garden is the potato tower. To make a potato tower, you start of with 3 to 4 feet of wire fencing formed into a cylinder. Next you create a barrier of straw all around the cylinder to keep the soil from falling out of the openings. Then you place about 6-8 inches of soil in the bottom of the cylinder, atop a little “nest” of straw, and place several small seed potatoes in a circle around the inside of the fencing. Repeat the soil and potato layers until you reach the top of your cylinder. The potatoes will begin to grow out of the sides of the potato “tower” and be ready to harvest once they have flowered and the plants begin to die back. At this point, you simply tip the tower over and let all the potatoes fall right out. You can usually expect about 10 potatoes to grow for every one you placed in the tower!
One of the primary goals of the Colgate Community Garden is to educate people about gardening practices. Recently, members of the Colgate garden team went to Hamilton Central School to show students there how to build these towers. After a brief introduction about the garden, 15-20 students from two different classes built four towers for their own garden at the high school.