You’ve seen the pictures of the Little Apartment in the Big City garden – a collection of drawers, pots, and whatever other containers I could find to fill with soil. (My neighbors are actually horrified by my use of an old cat litter box. I don’t get it.) Walking to the Little Apartment from the bus last night, I enjoyed seeing all the wonderful ways people in my neighborhood have incorporated edible food in their limited garden space.

Prior to 2009, the City of Seattle required a permit for anyone wanting to change up their parking strip – you know, that little strip of land between the sidewalk and the street, that you hate to mow, and just feels like wasted space. Planting anything other than grass required fees, and not small fees! Up to $225 if you were including hardscaping (stepping stones, etc), according to the Seattle Times. Thankfully, in 2009, the Seattle Department of Transportation changed their rules, and permits to plant in parking strips are no longer required.

Which gets me back to my lovely walk home last night.

In the two short blocks between my bus stop and my house, there were at least six full-on parking strip gardens. Lettuce, radishes, spinach, and herbs growing in a once-forlorn strip of land. Intermingled with the ornamental grasses and flowers, an artichoke plant peeks its head above ground. Tomato plants grow amongst the irises, and snap peas vine up fences. On the block where the Little Apartment is, the parking strips were paved over at some time in the past. However, my neighbors are intrepid folk. Across the street, beautiful raised beds have been built, and in them a cast array of vegetables are growing. Down the block, cedar barrels are planted with tomatoes and peppers.

As an apartment dweller, I am always jealous of homeowners with big plots of land to plant on. However, I love all the creative ways we big-city dwellers are discovering to grow our own healthy, fresh food, in the limited space that we have.

Want to learn more?

To read more about parking-strip gardening in Seattle, check out this article from The Seattle Times: Vegetable gardens crop up in Seattle parking strips

Seattle Tilth has offered classes on Parking Strip Gardening in the past, and are in general a great resource for city gardening.