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A Different Kind of Urban Homesteader

When I first moved to Albuquerque, I had a bit of an identity crisis. For so long I had embraced the persona of an urban homesteader. My garden got bigger and bigger and my pantry room shelves were full of jars of canned goods from the garden.

But now I found myself really living in a city, in an apartment with no yard in which to garden and no basement pantry. I had no compost pile for kitchen scraps. There were no solar panels up on my roof. I started to wonder who I was.

I still wanted to grow some of my own food. Actually, I needed to grow my own food. One of the first purchases I made last year were tropical fruit trees from Raintree Nursery: an arbequina olive, a calamondin citrus, and a banana. That summer, I added a fig that I bought at the farmer’s market, a couple of basil plants, and a (non–edible) jade plant.

I had quite a menagerie of plants out on our balcony.

In addition, I signed up for a row in the community garden, planted kale, carrots, beans, and lettuce from seed. I bought some tomato and pepper plants, and, in defiance of the community garden rules, planted perennial vegetables such as artichoke, sorrel, perennial arugula, and cutting celery. I even got a beehive which I put at the end of my row in the garden.

I discovered, much to my delight, that the courtyard at the Old Albuquerque High Lofts had peach and apple trees which no one was harvesting. So I rescued all the peaches from the birds and filled the freezer portion of my refrigerator with frozen peaches.

This year I’m finding that I’m dreaming of having raspberry and blueberry bushes in containers on the balcony. Now I’m wondering if I can grow a pomegranate in a container as well.

And I’m back to starting tomatoes and peppers from seed. I bought a grow lamp, heating mat, and a dome. Most of my starts have germinated and those little plants (tomatoes, peppers, and my beloved cardoon) are growing quite nicely.

I have little tiny oranges on my citrus plant and my olive tree is covered in flowers.

So, this urban homesteader, even without a homestead, still finds a way to grow food.

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