Will we really have to face a world without humus? Green Prophet explores urban gardening to offset food shortages.
Climate change has already made historical marks on the planet, but for the most part, we’ve been complacent about our food supply. Water comes out of the tap. Supermarket shelves look well stocked. We still wonder how to get through all the greens in our weekly CSA delivery. And yet shortages have already started to occur.
This summer’s soaring temperatures created a tomato shortage in Jordan, Egypt and Israel, with shocking price spikes. Butter has been scarce – in the extraordinary heat, dairy cows produce less milk. We read gloomy forecasts of fewer, less attractive, and more expensive vegetables, legumes – s0 less cooking oil – herbs, and fruit.
Humus aficionados worry that the Middle East’s favorite spread will go the way of the Dodo – although it’s hard to imagine a future without humus. (See our humus recipe in this post.) While famine is only a distant spot on the horizon for people owning computers and able to read this post, shrinking food supplies are already a reality. What are you and I going to do about it?
Well, we can grow some of our own.
Do you love to cook with herbs? You can grow quite a lot of herbs in tiny spaces. How about tomatoes and cucumbers? They grow beautifully out of hanging buckets. Even grape vines can be stored away in a garage and brought out in the spring, bearing enough fruit for a small wine vintage year after year.
If these projects seem intimidating, consider a really simple food project. Here are some ideas:
- Poke holes in the pockets of a shoe tree. Fill those pockets with dirt. Sow a few edible flowers like nasturtiums or marigolds in each one, or some basil – or chives. Hang your “herb tree” up on a nail and you have a vertical garden.
- Put some basil stems with leaves (from the supermarket is fine) in a glass of water. When you see healthy roots, which only takes a few days, plant them and place the pot in a sunny window till spring. You’ll be harvesting basil all year long.
- Grow sweet potatoes in a tote bag. This article in the Globe and Mail teaches you how.
There are hundreds of websites that teach how to grow food in an urban situation. Search for these words: urban gardening, vertical gardens, victory gardens, square foot gardening, guerrilla gardening (learn to make a seed bomb that explodes into flowers!), local food, upside-down gardening.
Sift through the information and keep what suits your locale and your fancy. Happy gardening, and happy eating!
More from Green Prophet on urban agriculture:
- Interview with Locavore Leda Meredith
- Composting in Cities and Apartments
- Book Review: Local Food, by Pinkerton & Hopkins
- From Capitalist Pig to Living in a City Tree
Photos of humus with hard-boiled egg and of basil rooting in water by Miriam Kresh