As my wife and I have traveled across the country in our RV, we see a lot of farmland. Every time we pass by the rows of crops, I’m reminded of my family garden and wish for a chance to grow some of our food while living in an RV. I’m happy to say that last summer we decided to give gardening a try. Here’s how we managed to get an RV garden growing.
Most summers when I was a kid, my family had a garden. It was small, maybe 20 feet by 20 feet in size, but we had a variety of corn, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, green beans, and other fruits and vegetables. It was practical for us since we lived in the country, which was more than a 30-mile drive to the nearest grocery store. Even though my sister and I ate many of the vegetables before they made it to our table, the garden allowed us to drastically reduce our monthly trips to the store. It’s been great having that same convenience in our RV.
Some people are always on the move. People who don’t stay put for more than a couple of months will need to find plants like microgreens, herbs, or other crops that can be planted in small pots and taken on a trip.
My wife and I fund our travels with seasonal work-camping, which means we tend to stay in one location for around the duration of a season. We have even written a book about how we got started and continue to fund our travels with this method. Longer stays like seasonal work camping offer expand our options for plants as our RV garden will have a full season in the same climate.
Choosing Your Veggies
This past summer, we worked in an RV park through fall. This gave us the perfect window to grow a variety of vegetables. We decided we wanted to plant tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, squash, summer lettuce, microgreens, and some flowers for color. We didn’t want to worry about having to give the plants to someone or destroying a perfectly good plant when we left; then we realized most common vegetables are annuals, which naturally die at the end of the season and must be replanted anyway. After harvesting the veggies for the season, it’s easy to leave the soil behind and take our pots with us on the road, ready for our next RV gardening adventure.
Pick a Planter
Most RV parks are not keen on letting you till or plant gardens on their sites, so RVers are stuck with planting in pots. There are a variety of pots and planters to choose from. Finding a large enough pot to provide the space needed to grow different vegetables while also being portable can be tricky.
We wanted something that we could take with us and use time and time again. For this reason, we decided to use fabric planters.
Fabric planters have many advantages for growing plants. They drain incredibly well while keeping the soil and nutrients in the pot. Their porous nature also helps maintain airflow. Good drainage, along with airflow, can help your plants regulate their temperatures on hot summer days. But the biggest benefit, according to the cloth growing pot manufacturers, is they give plants the ability to air prune their roots.
As the root system grows, it will hit the edge of the pot. In a traditional plastic or clay pot, the root will continue growing around the inside, causing an inefficient tangled mess. In a cloth pot, however, the root will go through the fabric. Once exposed to the air, the end of the root will dry out and prune itself. This prompts the plant to grow more feeding roots, which allows the plant to efficiently absorb water and nutrients from the soil.
I’m not a professional gardener. At one point, I managed to kill a cactus, proving I am less nurturing than a desert. We figured our plants would need all the nutrient help they could get. The biggest deciding factor that turned us on to cloth planters was the fact that we could leave the soil behind, wash the 30-gallon planters and fold them up. When folded, they take up less space than a folded blanket.
Enjoy Your Garden
By using portable potting options and following the directions on seed packets, we have found that it is rather easy to have a garden while living in an RV. For some, having a garden is a healthy choice. Others swear by the idea that their homegrown vegetables simply taste better than anything you can buy in any produce section. Perhaps that’s true. For me, the labor, effort, and care that it takes to bring a seed in a bed of soil to a side dish on my plate makes me savor the food so much more than simply grabbing it from a shelf.
Levi Henley SKP# 125245
Levi and his wife, Natalie, are a full-time RVing couple. Together with their two cats, they travel around the country in their 2011 Sunstar Itasca seeking work-camping gigs. They share their adventures, seasonal job experiences and travel tips on their website, henleyshappytrails.com.
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