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Apr 14, 2011 09:58 AM

Fire Escape Garden in NYC?


I am thinking of starting a herb/vegetable garden on my fire escape. It is quite large, with sunny eastern exposure, so I am thinking it could be quite successful.

I know it is technically illegally to put things on your fire escape, but I am on the top floor of my building, and the way the landing and stairs are laid out, I would be obstructing no one else but myself and my boyfriend, which is a chance I am willing to take for fresh basil and tomatoes.

My biggest concern, however, is pests. More specifically, I am really grossed out by rats. Birds and squirrels are a problem I am prepared to deal with, but I don't know how I feel about rats outside my bedroom window!

Has anyone else done this? Have you had any rat issues? How did you deal with them?

Also, any general tips on fire escape gardens would be appreciated...

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  1. I did it. Same as you, I was the topmost tenant. I was able to use a little roof space too but kept the lighter stuff there so I wouldn't press weight issues. Didn't have a problem with rats, birds, or squirrels. It was possums. My experience is that rats will mostly run when they see you but possums will stand their ground and snarl.

    1. Get one of those fake owls.

      1. I had several tomatoes growing in containers on my 5th floor fire escape several years ago. One day, late summer I came home and they were gone. My landlord had removed/disposed of them, since as you point out, it was technically illegal. Just something to be aware of.

        1. I doubt you will have any pest problems. Biggest issue will be drought and scorching heat. Try growing kale, easy and delish!