Treehouse Food Gardening

Say it with me now: Treehouse food gardening!  You’ve probably never heard them in that combination, but don’t those 3 words sound great together? Treehouses and food gardening both represent a sense of self-sufficiency and commune with nature. So why not do them both?

If your treehouse is snuggled inside the tree’s canopy, the first thing to consider is that you’ll have low light. This limits what you can grow, but there are still a lot of things that will work.

As long as you have some light, you can make treehouse food gardening work for you.  You can grow lettuce, carrots, spinach, kale, and arugula, to name but a few edibles. If you have any direct light, that’s ideal, but it’s not a deal breaker if you don’t. Check out this handy chart for a fuller list of what you can plant.

Tips for Happy Treehouse Food Gardening

For successful treehouse food gardening, find the sunniest place around your treehouse and set up some small pots or window planters with good clean, preferably organic soil (who really wants to consume heavy metals or other toxins often found in soil?).

Next, plant your seeds or transplants. A key for planting to the proper depth for seeds is 3 times the seed diameter. So a pea seed with a diameter of 5mm would be planted 12mm below the surface. Tiny seeds like kale, which are often less than 1mm get covered with just a very little bit of soil; 3mm, according to our rule of thumb.

Don’t worry – a little too deep or too shallow is fine so long as you’re close.

If you want to reach treehouse food gardening mastery, mulch your soil with any of the following:

  • torn-up strips of newspaper (in Canada the inks are made from soy…make sure that’s true where you live or else use something else to avoid consuming toxic heavy metals!)
  • fine bark mulch
  • strips of cardboard (if there’s printing on it, make sure it’s soy based or only use non-printed pieces)
  • torn-up or cut-up fresh or dried leaves

Mulch will help your soil retain moisture after watering, which is important because your seeds need consistently moist soil. If the soil gets too dry, your seeds will dry up and you’ll be disappointed and will have to start over.

Water gently, preferably with a soft shower applicator commonly found on watering buckets. Seeds are fragile and can easily get washed down too far into the soil or exposed on the surface.

Soon you should see shoots.  This is the best part of treehouse food gardening…other than eating your own food, of course! Be patient…it can take anywhere from a few days to three weeks for seeds to sprout through the surface, depending on the amount of sun and heat.

Congratulations…you’re now officially a member of a small but growing group of treehouse food gardening folks.

If you have any experiences or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, enjoy what in many parts is the last gasp of summer. Hope it was a good one…we’ll miss you, summer of 2014!

Image: TreeHouse Company