Urban Gardening – Growing Veggies in the City

Today we’re going to talk about urban gardening and the many, many advantages of having your very own fresh batch of fruit or spices to choose from, on your balcony or even on your windowsill. This is a project that can be taken on without needing to spend much money at all, or you can splurge a bit for a fancier set-up – it’s up to you!

We’re going to specifically talk about vegetable gardens in the city, which are usually on small windowsills, balconies or even in light wells. When growing your own garden in a city or town, you need to find the sunniest areas in your flat or apartment and make the most of these areas.

urban gardening

Why you should start urban gardening

Starting your very own vegetable or spice garden is quite a satisfying venture that has a long list of benefits ranging from health benefits to financial benefits. These types of garden’s aren’t that hard to maintain, and like we said before, it’s incredibly satisfying to watch your own plants grow and then literally reap the fruit of your labor.

Benefits:

  • Fresher food
  • Healthier lifestyle
  • Organic growing
  • Your own ecosystem
  • Highly therapeutic
  • Reuse and recycle when gardening
  • Brings you closer to nature
  • Saves money

Urban gardening basics

Starting your very own vegetable garden is actually not that hard at all, all you have to do is follow a few simple steps and you’ll soon be able to enjoy your very own veggies and spices. We’re going to have a quick look at some of the most important factors that you’ll need to keep in mind for your vegetable garden.

urban gardening basics

Before you start, keep in mind that you can spend as little or as much as you want; many of the materials needed can be obtained from reusing other things or you can simply buy everything you need, which is faster and easier. It’s entirely up to you.

Urban Gardening – Where should the garden go?

This is probably the most important decision that you’ll have to make; the environment that you place your garden in will determine most of the results. Your veggies will need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. The amount of space that you can set aside for your garden depends on you, as long as it has plenty of light and decent ventilation – you can use a windowsill, balcony, terrace or garden if you’re lucky enough to have one. Once you’ve decided where you want to have your mini vegetable garden, you can start planning it!

What can I use as pots?

There are loads of different household items that you can use as flowerpots, or if you’d prefer you can buy your own if you have a preference – just make sure that the pot that you buy or make yourself is the right size and shape for whatever type of plant that you’re growing.

Things you can recycle:

urban gardeningPretty much anything that can hold some soil/peat without breaking or becoming damaged by the rain or sun can be used as a flower pot for your garden. Some of these things include:

  • Plastic vegetable boxes
  • Fish boxes
  • Beach coolers
  • Potato bags
  • Car wheels
  • Wooden boxes
  • Old clothes (sweaters, jeans etc.)

Things you can make into pots:

You can also make your own pots from other materials such as wood using some simple nails and a hammer – give them whatever shape you want.

  • Wooden pallets
  • Broken wooden shelves
  • Broken wooden boxes
  • Wooden slats

Buying a container:

You can also simply save yourself some time and hassle and buy your own container, keeping in mind the type of plant that you’re going to grow in them.

  • Flowerpots
  • Vertical growing systems
  • Rectangular pots
  • Growing trays

Important note: different types of plants require different settings for their roots, so you’ll need to choose your pot depending on the plant that you’re going to grow. If you don’t want to get too technical, just make sure that your flowerpots have at least 20-25cm depth, which is what most plants require.

How many plants can I grow in each pot/tray?

This is another important point, as you can’t simply plant your vegetables in a few flowerpots and expect them to grow – different types of plants need a certain amount of space to grow out their roots. We’re going to go through some of the most common plants/spices and how much substrate that they need to grow successfully.

multiple plants per pot

Plants that need more than 15L soil:

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Beans
  • Peppers

Plants that need less than 15L soil:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Arugula

Plants that need less than 5L soil:

  • Mint
  • Strawberry
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Plants that need less than 1L soil:

  • Small radishes
  • Beets
  • Garlic
  • Carrots

Note: this is simple a basic guide, and you may still obtain results using smaller or bigger containers.

Urban Gardening – Choosing the right soil

worm hummus

Using the right soil is the key to success when growing your own vegetable garden in the city, alongside sun and water. That’s why you should try and use the highest quality soil possible. If you’d prefer, you can simply buy yourself a high quality substrate that has everything that your plants could possibly need, or you can make your very own organic substrate at home.

In order to make your own substrate you’ll need to use certain ingredients. The substrate should take on a kind of spongey texture so that your plants’ roots get plenty of oxygen and so that they don’t stay too humid for too long. It should also have a pH of about 6.5 and a certain amount of nutrients so that your plants can feed as they grow.

Main soil ingredients:

  • Worm humus
  • Perlite
  • Coco coir
  • Peat mixture

Note: every now and then you’ll need to add more nutrients so that it doesn’t dry up completely. This is usually done by adding more worm humus on the top of the substrate and mixing it in slightly along the top layer. You can also get a composter, which allow you to use your organic leftovers to make your very own organic and environmentally-friendly – this is definitely the most self-sufficient way to make your own fertilizers and substrate.

How to start urban gardening:

For our garden, we’re going to use plastic vegetable boxes. If you’re following our exact method, make sure the boxes are all the same size. You’ll also need some plastic zip-ties, some mosquito netting, some plastic boarding, your soil and your plants!

List of materials used:

  • urban gardening8 plastic fruit boxes
  • 1 pack of zip ties
  • Mosquito netting
  • Plastic sheeting
  • 4 sacks of substrate or 200L of your own soil mix
  • Vegetable and spice clones for planting
  • Once you have everything you need, you’ll need to set it all up. Here we go!

Setting up your urban garden:

  • 1: We’ve decided to put four plastic boxes together as a base; place them in your preferred distribution.
  • 2: Now, you need to attach them using the zip-ties to make the most structurally sound base possible. Do the same with the other 4 boxes, which will be the flowerpots.
  • 3: Press the netting down into one of the upper boxes and cut it a few centimeters above the top of the box. Repeat this with the other three boxes.
  • 4: Do the same with the plastic sheeting and cut it a few centimeters above the top of the boxes.

Note: The mosquito netting is used to stop any loose substrate coming out the side of the box, and the plastic sheeting is so that humidity is retained a bit more within the container.

  • 5: Grab the base you’ve made using the four boxes, and place the massive flowerpot you’ve just made above.
  • 6: Fill the containers with your substrate, making sure it’s nice and airy.
  • 7: Press the substrate down very lightly and then water it along the top.
  • 8: You’re now ready to start transplanting your clones! Make sure to give them plenty of space, giving them an even distribution, and then water again with a small amount of water. Your vegetable garden is now up and running!

Note: From this point onwards, you’ll need to start minding your plants and using solid organic nutrients every now and then.
 

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