What the dickens, you ask, is guerrilla gardening? We all know guerrilla fighting, but guerrilla gardening? Just as guerrilla fighters work in small bands, secretly, to ambush and overthrow enemy forces, using a series of tactics designed to achieve maximum effect with minimum effort, guerrilla gardeners transform waste spaces of land, as small as a square foot, into beautiful (and often edible) gardens. Why guerrilla? Because they don't own these plots of land.
Guerrilla gardening has a long history, dating back to 1649, when Gerrard Winstanley took over vacant land and planted crops, distributing food without charge to those in need. Guerilla gardening has since been practiced in every country of the world; everything from an apple core left over from lunch, secretly buried, to sowing seed at night, and the results are seen in thousands of acres of land seeded with crops of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
These clandestine gardeners have begun organizing and blogging about their gardens, and the results are staggering. Although often chased away by police or local authorities, guerrilla gardeners have taken over plots of land to produce vegetables, herbs, flowers, and more, to beautify neglected or waste spaces of land. Because of the need to avoid legal difficulties, they have invented technologies to help them plant quickly and efficiently, without attracting attention to themselves. Whether it's a seed bomb that you can toss from a car window as you're speeding down the highway, or a mobile garden made from a salvaged shopping cart (one in France even has an integrated herb garden, compost heap, and stove to make tea!), or hats specially modified to be turned into wearable gardens, the guerrilla gardeners have pushed planting technology far beyond the traditional limits of gardening. Along with shopping carts, newspaper dispensers, walls, and anyplace soil and seeds can be made to stick have become venues for guerrilla gardeners to beautify their neighbourhoods, raise edible food, and increase the biodiversity of the area.
Guerrilla gardening can be started solo, with discarded plants, and then expanded. A good place to find discarded plants is at plant centres, nurseries, landscapers' dumpsters, and after plant shows. Alternatively, you can harvest seeds, make them into a packet, and throw them out your car window or from your balcony, and let nature take its course. Over time, waste spaces, plots of empty ground, abandoned planters, and roadsides will come into bloom, beautifying neighbourhoods. Probably the easiest is to find an abandoned planter, and just casually toss a few seeds into it about 3 weeks before warm weather. When the rains come, the seeds will sprout, and you will have an instant garden.
You can also scatter seeds along a waste piece of land at night, give them a quick douse of water, and be on your way. Or you can prepare a seed bomb, which usually consists of recycling some scrap paper by tearing it up, wetting it, and rolling it in seeds, then mushing the whole thing together in a ball. Toss it somewhere in a waste area while it's raining, and in a few weeks, everyone will be rewarded with a brand-new garden!
Guerrilla gardening is useful to the environment in many ways: it increases public awareness of land use; provides aesthetic improvements to public or abandoned land; removes pollution from the air and soil; filters chemicals from rainwater; reduces the carbon footprint of an area; increases biodiversity; and provides food. So if you're inside on a rainy afternoon, get out there and garden!
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