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My Unlikely, Urban Kitchen Garden

May 11, 2011

My tiny rented apartment sits atop a 1930s terraced house in north London, on a cul-de-sac that’s sandwiched between three busy main roads that heave in the direction of Camden and King’s Cross. Buffeted by traffic noise, and framed by the backs of Mary Poppins style townhouses and chimney tops, my small home is found in an urban but oddly idyllic spot.

What makes my part of this paltry palace extra special is the fact my bedroom has a door that opens out onto a fenced-in flat roof. Just three meters square in size, I’ve made it my mission to turn this bleak patch of grey into an aerial, edible garden.
Despite having no gardening skills whatsoever, I’ve managed to turn the rooftop into an allotment of sorts. I’ve grown myself a set of green fingers and toes, and I’m pretty proud of them. Floating on its cloud of noise and dust mere footsteps away from my bed, I confess I’ve done some of my best roof garden work still in my pajamas.
Alongside crops that can bear an entirely container bound life – beans, tomatoes, squashes, potatoes, garlic, radish, strawberries, salads and herbs – I’ve sought out fragrant and night blooming flowers. Warm evenings on the roof are perfumed by lavender, tobacco plant, evening primrose and jasmine. I’ve created a true living room – an outdoor space woven about with plants where (when the weather is kind) I can daydream, moon bathe and entertain friends.
A city girl, I also love nature and I’m fascinated by urban ecology. London supports a wealth of wild species and natural land covers an impressive swathe of the capital. What already exists is valuable and should be protected. I wanted to create a little bit more green space, and I’ve made my humble roof garden an organic and wildlife friendly one, full of flowers that attract bees, butterflies, birds and moths.
As spring 2011 progresses, the rooftop is slowly returning to its jungle-like state of last year. At the moment some purple potatoes are thriving in a hessian sack, the garlic plants are looking tall and handsome, and a crop of strawberries are slowly swelling in their hanging basket home. Sweet-peas are clambering over an old set of shelves and edible violas are blooming in a pot of young rocket.
My bedroom is currently more plant nursery than sleeping quarters, hosting tiny tomato, pepper, bean and cucumber plants that will move outside once the nights are warmer. I’m already spending as much time as possible in my tiny and unlikely urban kitchen garden.
You can read more about my adventures, both on and beyond the rooftop, at


Your rooftop garden has enchanting soul. I found the kindred link I wanted to greet you with a few days ago ... there is an interesting rooftop garden in Mumbai. Preeti Patil posted about the nutrient & microbiology-enhanced compost they make, called Amrut Mitti. They generously give the recipe & method on their blog. Their Facebook page is Urban Leaves & you can see photos of the Amrut Mitti beds in the making ... I plan to do this & it would work on a container-scale too. Plus, Glenn has just posted the latest update on his concentrated comphrey elixir fertilizer here on KGI. [url=][/url] <a href=""></a>
wow I am impressed! Your certainly seem to have green fingers and toes. Thanks for sharing
We, too, have been growing green fingers and toes, though our garden is earthbound.
Lovely! What a gorgeous transformation. I hope you enjoy your bit of rooftop paradise! Happy growing! Julie

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