I Am Not A Gardener

Posted on Jul 9 2010 - 3:45am by Mike Lieberman

I’m gonna get philosophical and say that I am not a gardener. I am Mike, and I grow food.

Yes, this might seem contradictory considering the site is called Urban Organic Gardener, but I have to use the term gardener because that’s what people associate with what I’m doing.

There is nothing wrong with gardening, but it’s just not what I do. To me gardening is what Fern, Teresa, Jenny and Jean Ann do.

I gots no beef with gardening and what they are doing. When I think of gardening, I think of pretty landscaping with nice neat lines in a space that’s well manicured. Plus the phrase gardening just sounds foo foo to me. The word in and of itself is a turn off.

That’s not what I’m doing. I’m not doing this to make things like pretty. I’m doing this to supply myself with food. There is a distinction.

If a few kale leaves go yellow, that’s cool. If all of the kale leaves go yellow, that’s a problem because then I can’t eat it.

I’m growing my own food because I know what is going into it from the soil, to the plants to the water. It helps to decrease my carbon footprint because I’m using mostly materials that would be tossed to landfill to plant in the self-watering containers, soda bottles and coconut shells.

No toxic chemicals or sprays were used and I can eat a salad within 20 minutes of harvesting it, which cuts down on the oil used to transport our food to us.

It’s about re-establishing my connection with my food source. I have some food growing on my balcony garden and plan to grow a lot more. I guess you can say that I have a vegetable garden on my balcony.

Not everyone is going to be into growing so much, but I believe that if everyone were to grow just one plant, it would change their outlook on food.

So step away from the machine and get to growing. Let me know how it works out for you.


  • Jenny

    You're a FARMER! On a balcony, no less. Awesome.

  • Pierre

    Mike….i am with you! Growing my own food has made preparing home cooked neals more appetizing…..and inspiring. It tastes much better and I know what I am putting in my body better.. It is much easier to eat healthy when using fresh herbs to add flavor intead of fat or salt. And it is nice to bring my veggies to parties and such and share them with family and friends. And nothing goes to waste. Scraps are composted and will create the soil for future crops.Financially it makes sense too. I have saved alot of money not only on veggies, but on dressings, sauces, marinades and beverages.

  • rmassingham

    You said it Jenny – that's your new handle Mike 'Urban Organic Farmer' (who's plot just happens to be an LA balcony). Good stuff. Bottom line is, you are making a difference! Cheers!

  • Whenuwish1

    I agree with all of y'all — we are FARMERS. Some folks call us Urban Homesteaders. That's kind of cool too. I swear if I could just convince my landlord I would have a flock of chickens out back — fresh eggs…..and just IMAGINE the homemade compost!

    This has been my first year doing the container farming, and it was kind of one big experiment. I want to really PLAN for the coming fall crops and next spring. By that I mean I want to set some goals and do a little storage of surplus, instead of just planting cool stuff and eating whatever makes it. Does that make sense?

    Do any of you out there SERIOUSLY supplement their actual food budget with what you grow? I'm trying to plan and could use a little input.

    Yay for farmers!


  • Mike Lieberman

    Sooo true. Love it. It also starts great conversations to introduce others to growing their own as well.

  • Mike Lieberman

    At this point, I'm still buying produce from the farmers market, but want to eventually eat most of my produce from my balcony. I def eat more fresh veggies than the average person. Starting my planning as well. We'll take this journey together.

  • http://ginkgograss.com/blog Ginkgograss

    Here in Utah, in seems “garden” is always used to describe vegetables. And I'm with you on your view that “garden/gardener” is a pretty landscape. Oh well.

  • BGgarden.com / Bren

    Mike … do you have a little widget to link to your blog : I LOVE IT! I would rather be known for growing my own food any day!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Bren. Glad you love it. Me too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Whenuwish1

    It makes planning harder when my son eats three times as many veggies if they're fresh out of the garden. He's so funny — any veggies I serve now get inspected, and he always asks “Did we grow this, or is it from the store?” He says “from the store” with SUCH HORROR. He cracks me up!

  • Mike Lieberman

    That is awesome. Love that you are raising your son that way.

  • http://lovingnaturesgarden.com Alison Kerr

    Mike, I can totally relate when you say that you're not a gardener. What I do in my own garden, and what I write about at my own blog, is more functional than aesthetic.

    For me gardening is about food for me and food for wildlife. It's about being part of my environment and about a sense of belonging and empowerment. How my garden looks is secondary.

    Somehow though the design element of gardening is growing on me – for years I thought gardening was all about flowers and design. But, while I had a lack of interest in growing stuff for the look of it, I was held back on deciding what to plant and where because I did want some element of overall design in my garden.

    I solved my gardening dilemma by taking an online garden design course earlier this year. It feels really good to have an overall plan – there will be more fruits and veggies for me and more nectar and fruits for the nature I love.

    Here's to growing stuff, whether you're a gardener or not!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Word. I have nothing against gardeners. Call yourself what you want as long as you are comfortable with it. Just grow some damned food :-)

  • Bigugly1

    I am leaving large garden where I was happy with the outcome, and moving to containers on my porch. I enjoyed the videos very much. I hope to use the information on building the containers without the pipe. Thanks very much for you information. Fred

  • http://www.CanarsieBK.com Mike Lieberman

    I’ll trade my balcony for your large garden ๐Ÿ˜‰ Keep me updated on your container garden.

  • http://twitter.com/JeNycEats Jen Chen

    Great blog! I’ve only had a veggie garden for the past 2 years and I love it! I live in NY and been wanting to move to LA for a while (for acting and modeling) and seeing that it’s possible to continue having a garden there, only makes LA look more pleasant. Can’t wait to see what you have growing this season :)

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    The growing season is year round here…so is the traffic ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • http://twitter.com/jchapstk Jeavonna

    Even a bad home grown tomato is better than a grocery store tomato.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Amen to that!