5 New England Urban Gardening Trends to Try This Season
We took a trip to the Boston Flower & Garden Show to scout what's hot in urban agriculture. Here are the top 5 trends of 2016.
The Boston Flower & Garden Show set up shop at the Seaport World Trade Center a couple of weeks ago. Avid gardeners flocked in by the busload to see the lavish landscape displays, attend lectures, and shop for seeds, supplies, and bulbs to their green-thumbs content.
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed to see so much of the event space dedicated to retail, much of it with nothing to do with gardening at all — think jewelry and dehydrated dip mixes — but there were some fun features. Of particular interest, was the urban homesteading pavilion, offering advice on getting started with backyard chicken-raising, and beekeeping. It also featured info on local farmers markets and festivals.
It was a good place to see what’s sprouting for the upcoming growing season in New England. Here are my top 5 urban agriculture trends for 2016:
1. Grow your own mushrooms
MoTown mushroom company, out of Morristown, Vermont brings culinary fungus among us. Cooks know that sought after varieties like shiitake, or oyster, can cost upwards of $15 a pound. So why not grow them yourself? Motown provides mushroom-in-a-pail growing kits and these fun mushroom logs, which are inoculated with gourmet strains so you can cultivate the ‘shrooms in a shady spot outdoors.
MoTown Mushroom Company - 161 Vanasse Rd., Morristown, VT, 802.851.8222, motownmushrooms.com
2. Cosmopolitan chickens
With chicken raising now officially city-sanctioned in environs as urbane as Somerville, you can collect fresh eggs from your own little pocket of land. Backyard Birds was there chatting chicken with their avian ambassador, Lucifer — who as evidenced by the photo above — is much friendlier than his name implies. For help with coop consultation or rooster rehoming, get in touch with “The Chickeness,” Khrysti Smyth.
Yardbirds Backyard Chickens - 617.863.6326, yardbirdsbackyardchickens.com
3. Backyard beekeeping
The Best Bees Company was on hand promoting their non-profit arm, the Urban Beekeeping Laboratory. The company, which offers beekeeping services and maintenance, is raising money in an effort to alleviate the crisis facing honeybees. They are currently selling local honey with 100% of the proceeds going to bee research. To learn more about their services or to make a donation check out their website.
The Best Bees Company - 839 Albany St., Boston, 617.445.2322, bestbees.com
4. Heirloom seeds
Once you’ve tried an heirloom tomato — think Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, or Pineapple — it’s hard to imagine ever including a mealy, waxed grocery-store fruit in your salad ever again. The most economical and (I’d argue, rewarding) way to get your hands on great vegetables is to grow them yourself. Heirloom seed companies offer varieties you won’t find as starts in the local nursery. The show offered a lot of inspiration and opportunity to shop for the growing season ahead.
Hart Seed Company - 304 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT, 1.800.326.4278, hartseed.com
5. Tabletop terrariums
These little ecosystems make for beautiful and long-lasting centerpieces, perfect for a spring dinner party. This beauty is from Table & Tulip in the South End. To make your own, look for Plant Nite events, which are popping up at restaurants all over town.
Table & Tulip - 461 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617.262.3100, tableandtulip.com