The thing about pulling the bike garden project first is that I’m really flying by the seat of my pants. Whereas some projects have tutorials, recipes or guides to use, the bike garden concept is pretty much a free-for-all. This has the potential to be discouraging, but this afternoon it was just plain exhilarating.
After venturing downtown to get a first-hand glimpse at the G20 security measures (whoa), I retreated back to my own neck of the woods to start on The Bike Garden – Take Two. The first step was taking another trip to The Bike Joint (so great) to pick up some more supplies to spruce The Ring up with. On today’s list — a front basket.
Luckily, attaching a front basket is way easier than fenders, which meant lots of time for getting a garden growing. The basic concept is to create a space in your basket in which to put soil, and thus grow food. Ready? Here we go.
- A bike with a front basket on it
- Lots (20-ish) of large safety pins
- 4+ twist ties
- Plants or Seeds
1) To start, you need to line your basket with cheesecloth. This keeps the soil in your basket, while also allowing for proper drainage. Because cheesecloth is thin, you want to have many layers of it for extra security. I had 4 layers, and wouldn’t go for anything less. You also want to be generous in the size of cheesecloth that you cut. Make sure it goes right up the sides of your basket, lining the whole inside, and not just the bottom.
2) Use safety pins to secure the cheesecloth around the top edges of your basket. You also want to secure it in the bottom four corners. I found that twist ties worked best for this. Poke them through the cheesecloth, with the ends hanging down towards the ground, and then twist them up, nice and tight.
3) Once you feel good about having a solid and well-attached lining for your basket garden, you’re ready to start planting. In general, you don’t want to put too much weight in your front basket, so don’t put too much soil in. I filled mine about 3 inches full with moist, organic potting soil from my local gardening store.
4) The hardest part is choosing what to grow. The main constraint is that you’ll want plants that have shallow root structures. I wasn’t sure what to choose, so I took the opportunity to go to my local farmers market and get some advice. Just about every week, I visit the folks at the Urban Harvest stand at the farmers market, and swoon over their plants. I bought all the seeds for my garden there, and let me say, they haven’t disappointed. For this particular project, they advised that herbs like thyme and mint would be good, as well as swiss chard and lettuce mixes. I had in my mind that I wanted some pretty, edible flowers to wind around the front. In the end, I settled on a crawling nasturtium, some rainbow swiss chard, and a lettuce mix.
I can’t tell you how wonderful a project this has already been. Everyone has oo-ed and ah-ed over my lovely bike garden, and let me say, it’s a great conversation starter.
There is one very important disclaimer though. Riding quickly is difficult with this fragile load. Bumps are also bad. Think seriously about whether this is an appropriate project for your bike-riding lifestyle before you get planting. But also remember – if you buy an easy-to-install front basket, you can take it on and off depending on your riding needs.