"Mobile Gardening," the Hottest New Trend? 6 Ways to Mash-Up Bikes and Gardens

Bike Garden Mowhawk
©. Meg
window box on bike

FriendOfHumanity/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Last year I participated in the installation of the Mobile Garden, a garden installed on a CTA train by Joe Baldwin of NoisiVelvet. Since then my interest in "mobile gardening" has led me to research ways people are creating mobile gardens of their own. Bicycle gardening is perhaps the most ingenious examples of mobile gardening I‘ve come across. The examples are easy to adapt and modify to create your own bicycle gardens. These hobbies, nay, lifestyles dovetail nicely as you will see from the examples below.

1. Bicycle Window Box Planter

Instructables member, FriendOfHumanity, has a tutorial on how to create your own bike planter out of scrap wood, allowing you to take your herb garden for a spin.

The blogger at A Year From Scratch created a bike planter out of a wire basket and some cheesecloth. She planted it with edibles like Swiss chard and nasturtiums then invited people to sample the garden by attaching a sign to the basket.

2. Bicycle Garden Mohawk

Bike Garden Mowhawk
©. Meg

© Meg

Meg’s example of a bicycle garden, at Upcycle Yourself, uses cheesecloth, old socks and burlap to create some mini gardens that she attaches to various parts of her bike. She offers these six simple steps for anyone who wants to garden on their bike:

1. Begin with love and intention toward the bicycle and the garden, as it requires water and attention several times a day.
2. Wet some cheesecloth. Wrap cheesecloth around the desired part of the bicycle 2 or 3 times (like the fender or the frame), ensuring that you do not inhibit the function of gear and brake cables.
3. Add seeds, preferably pre-sprouted. Grasses, like wheat and barley, are the most effective, since the single blade can easily penetrate the cheesecloth, whereas two-leaf plants tend to be suppressed. Grasses also send out a quicker and heartier root network, and grow to more impressive heights.
4. Wrap the cheesecloth once or twice over the seeds. Close it using safety pins.
5. Keep the cheesecloth constantly damp. In sunny weather, this could be 10 times a day. In a cool garage, this might be twice.
6. Ride, harvest, enjoy.

You can see more photos of Meg’s bike gardens here and here.

3. Wearable Bike Planter

Red Wearable Bike Planter

© Colleen Jordan

I love Colleen Jordan's adorable Wearable Bike Planters on Etsy, which I saw over on Design Sponge.

Jordan's copy beckons you to take your plants for a spin. “Bring your plants on an adventure and let them enjoy some sunshine and fresh air! If you’ve ever dreamed about attaching a plant to your bike, now you’re in luck!" The bike planters are 3D printed out of nylon and come in different colors and sizes.

4. Retired Bike as a Planter

Retired bike as a garden

Alastair Smith/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Even when the wheels fall off your bicycle garden, it can continue life as a stationary garden and a reminder of your preferred mode of transport.

This bike in Vancouver was given a peaceful retirement as a roadside planter. I like to imagine the bikes zooming past this bike garden admire its serene life while it looks on wistfully at the younger bikes still in operation.

5. Topiary Bike

Topiary bicycle as a garden

Jula Julz/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Wrapping the frame of your bicycle with Sphagnum moss will transform the whole body into a planter.

Plant it with low-growing hardy succulents like Sempervivums, but any short plants recommended for green roof planting would work as well.

6. Bicycle Garden Art

Tire rims used to create garden edging

© Jonathan Maus

It happens. Sometimes bicycles have to be retired due to accidents, but even then, their various parts can be incorporated into your garden.

Like in this example of old rims converted into edging documented by Jonathan Maus, Editor and Publisher, BikePortland.org. You can see more examples of garden art from bikes on Jonathan's blog.

Mobile Garden Video

There's a video I shot with my cell phone of the CTA train garden. The quality isn't the best, but I purposefully documented the Mobile Garden with a cell phone to mimic the videos of fights on public transit that we've all seen on YouTube.

Oh yeah, and turn down the volume as it's rather loud and I'm told my narration is annoying. Alternate link here.