Self sufficiency in the city


My first interest in gardening was experimental, as I wanted to see if I had a green thumb and I wanted to experiment with different vegetables that I liked to eat.  This experimentation phase has never left as I am continually trying to grow new things and find that little extra space in my suburban yard to allow for the new experiments.  I have read many books on gardening and I have subscriptions to the popular gardening magazines, Organic Gardening, Hobby Farms, Urban Farm and my favorite Countryside and Small Stock Journal.  I like this magazine because it is about thrift and how people with fewer resources make due with what they have and they are very creative. Their ideas spark my interest in how I can incorporate farm ideas into an urban setting.

A few years ago I was invited to attend a lecture by a man named Michael Pollan.  I had not heard about him previously and I was intrigued by his discussion of the impact of large scale farming, the lack of biodiversity in our food supply and how unhealthy all the corn additives are in our diet.  I read his book Omnivors Dilemma and learned about the buying local movement, growing your own organic foods and avoiding the fast food trap (still working on that one).  Also the news has regularly featured food born illnesses and deaths that I always hear about after I have purchased and ate an at risk crop.

Taking all my reading and study to practice I formulated my urban compost system concept.  My goal is to know where my food comes from.  I want to feel confident that my soil is healthy and pesticide free.  I still use a small amount of liquid fertilizer but I am evolving into new areas where I can produce my own compost tea and fish emulsion from a backyard pond.  I started with a redworm box for my kitchen scraps.  I then added a three bin compost system which I subsequently added a fourth bin.  After a couple years of coaxing I finally convinced my wife to allow me to have chickens.  Although very skeptical at first she has finally come around to saying she likes the chickens (I heard it again yesterday while she was on the phone talking to someone).  I originally liked the novelty of the idea but I also wanted to have the nutritious and much superior to store bought eggs.

My mind continued to wander how I can be more self sufficient.  I began stock piling all the leaves I could find from the avenues and my neighbors to use to compost intensely in the summer.  Having the chickens and redworms provides the fertilizer component to my composting process.  Soon I found that I could really crank out a lot of compost if I put the work into building and turning the bins regularly. Last year I added a water collection barrel to a downspout and have used the rain water to deep soak my fruit trees regularly.

I then came to the realization that I can make ALL of the compost that I need for both my front and backyards.  I know where it comes from as I made it myself.  I have experienced the heat generated from a properly composted pile and the sweet smell of finished compost that came from the yard waste and kitchen scraps.  I have seen the improvement in my soil and vegetable/flower development and production.  My random thoughts have evolved into reality.  I can grow most of my food in my backyard.  I have learned to freeze and can.  I hand grind wheat and make my own bread.  I am dabbling into cheese and yogurt making.  Beer and wine making will be in the future along with a bee hive.  There is so much to learn that I will never be finished learning and growing.

I created my dream business “Urban Compost Systems” as a way to help others who have similar concerns and dreams.  The people I have met through the business have inspired me to look into other interests such as raw juicing and permaculture.  I look forward to interacting with every customer who has a passion for gardening.  The weight of the “real world”, relating to my former police profession, has been greatly lifted from my shoulders during these pursuits.  I look forward to my next daily adventures rather than wishing my life away pursuing that retirement date.  I am now free of all that negativity.  Feels pretty good I have to say.

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About urbancompostsystems

I am a retired law enforcement officer who is an avid gardener. I have a compost bin business named Urban Compost Systems. I believe strongly in the concept of growing healthy food and I utilize chickens and redworms in my "compost system". The only ingredients that I need from outside my system are leaves in the fall and some supplemental grass clippings from neighbors. I make hundreds of gallons of compost in my four bin system. I thoroughly enjoy the summer bounty I get from my yard and I take great pride in knowing that I am using my yardwaste to make healthy compost for my yard.
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2 Responses to Self sufficiency in the city

  1. Adam says:

    Thanks for the posts, I’ve been considering aquaponics. and would be interested in your thoughts.

    • Thanks Adam. My neighbor was just talking to me about having access to some kind of barrels that she has plans to utilize for aquaponics. I have researched the subject briefly but not in depth. Thanks for the thought. That is definitely something I will be looking more into in the future as it appears definitely viable in an urban garden.

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