Just because you live in the city doesnt mean that you give up the right to experiencing fresh, homegrown vegetables and herbs. There are many different gardening options that are specifically designed for small spaces or even indoor areas. If you want to enjoy the taste of fresh herbs and vegetables without paying a fortune for them at the grocery store, try growing some of your own right at home using one of the gardening methods explained below.
Square Foot Gardening
Sometimes referred to as 44 Gardening, square foot gardening is a method that involves densely planting a small garden plot to achieve the maximum harvest. Ideally, this type of garden is done in raised beds to ensure proper moisture of the soil and it can be divided into sections for different types of plants. Though you can have a square foot garden of nearly any size, it is generally recommended that you start with at least a 44-foot plot. Your raised garden bed should be filled with a particular soil blend that will retain moisture well one-third vermiculite, one-third compost and one-third peat moss. All of these materials should be available at your local home improvement store.
When it comes to planning your square foot garden, your options are nearly endless. You can cultivate a herbs-only garden or you can combine your favorite herbs and vegetables. The key to success, however, is proper planning plant all of your low-growing herbs in one section and your taller herbs in another. If you want to grow caged vegetables like tomatoes or peppers, reserve a section of the garden for them and be sure to give them plenty of vertical support. When watering your 44 garden, water the plants directly at the root rather than watering the entire garden for the best results.
Even if you have limited or no outdoor space available for gardening, you can still grow your favorite herbs and vegetables using containers. Container gardening is a very versatile and practical method of gardening, especially for urban dwellers. This type of gardening can be as simple as keeping a few small pots of herbs on your windowsill or as complex as covering your entire outdoor patio or rooftop with an elaborate garden. The thing to remember with container gardening is that the plants are restricted to a small area and thus require a little more care to ensure that they grow properly. You may need to water container plants more often than garden plants, for example.
Some of the best plants for container gardens include:
- Beans (Bush Blue Lake, Contender, pole beans)
- Beets (Bulls Blood, Early Red Ball, Ruby Queen)
- Broccoli (Small Miracle, Green Comet, DiCicco)
- Carrots (Little Finger, Short n Sweet, Thumbelina)
- Cucumber (Salad Bush, Bush Champion, Spacemaster)
- Eggplant (Black Beauty, Orlando, Patio Mohican)
- Lettuce (Green Ice, Salad Bowl, Buttercrunch)
- Peas (Sugar Bon, Mammoth Melting Sugar)
- Pepper (Gypsy, New Ace, Long Red Cayenne)
- Tomatoes (Early Girl, Pixie, Patio Princess)
- Winter Squash (Butterbush, Early Acorn, Honey Bear)
Many urban areas around the country have begun to cultivate community gardens. Often developed in empty lots or on rooftops, community gardens provide a place for individuals to have a little green space of their own in the midst of the city. Community gardens can work in several different ways. In some areas, individuals are offered a small piece of land that is theirs to do with what they wish. Here you can grow your favorite herbs and vegetables, or simply cultivate a few colorful flowers. Other community garden programs operate on a more collaborative level, encouraging the sharing of both the labor and the harvest. If this idea sounds intriguing to you, do a search for community gardens in your area to see what might be available.
Challenges for Urban Dwellers
While there are several options available for urban dwellers who want to cultivate a garden, it is not always easy to do so. I have several friends who live in urban areas who have experienced these challenges firsthand. The soil quality, for example, is the biggest challenge for most of my friends who participated in community garden programs. Depending where your garden is located, you may also have to worry about food theft. For the most part, however, you do not have to worry about wildlife like deer or rabbits ravaging your garden.
It should be clear to you by now that living in an urban area doesnt exclude you from keeping a garden of your own you may simply have to be a little creative with it. Hopefully after reading this article you are inspired to try some container gardening of your own or you are ready to start a 44 plot right on your patio. Whatever method you choose, get ready to enjoy some fresh vegetables and herbs!