More and more city dwellers are getting into gardening, and for many different reasons – to harvest their own veggies, save money, respect the environment or just as an enjoyable hobby. When you don’t have much space, you learn to make maximum use of every square inch. Here are some tips on planting a productive urban garden, even if you only have a small balcony or tiny space to work with.
1. Choose the right spot
Once you can feel the warm rays of the sun, it’s time to go out and play in the dirt! Before you choose which vegetable seedlings to plant, it’s crucial to choose the right site for your garden – balcony, deck, table or window, flat roof or parking strip. Now measure the space, and get out there several days in a row to see how much sun exposure your garden gets. Tomatoes are happy in the midday sun, but mint is likely to wilt all summer under the same conditions. Ideally, find a spot with full sun – 6 to 8 hours of direct light a day.
If you live in an apartment building, check the rules to make sure the structure is strong enough to support the weight of a kitchen garden. If you don’t have any space outdoors, how about that nice big window in your apartment.
2. Make a list of everything you’ll need
This is where you can really get creative! Vegetables will grow in window boxes, containers, clay pots, rolling carts – or even planted directly in a bag of soil. Mason jars, jam jars and Rubbermaid-type containers are all good cheap eco-wise choices. Pinterest is full of fresh ideas you can use for inspiration (see links at the end of the article).
Along with suitable containers, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Bags of garden soil (the number of bags will depend on how much growing space you have)
- A spade
- A small fork
- A watering can/hose
- Saucers to catch overflow from the pots
- Gardening gloves
Source image : Unsplash
3. Choose what to grow
Herbs make an ideal first crop for the novice gardener. They don’t need much attention – in fact, some herbs are “unkillable” and can grow in pots or in the earth. What else you grow will be dictated by how much space you have and which veggies you like best to eat.
Here are our favourites:
In pots: Most fresh herbs. Annuals, like dill, basil, coriander and parsley, will only last for one season. Mint, chives and rosemary are hardier, and can survive our harsh winter if planted directly in the garden.
Medium-sized containers or window boxes: tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, most kinds of lettuce, cucumbers, strawberries and radishes.
Large containers: zucchini, carrots, potatoes and raspberry canes.
4. Plant your seeds
The best time to start plants from seed indoors is from early March to late May, depending on the variety of vegetables you want to grow.
If you’re a bit late this season, don’t worry! Just buy some seedlings at the market and you’ll soon see results.
Source image : Unsplash
5. Water, water, everywhere
How does your garden grow? With water, of course. The best time for watering is in the early morning or the evening. Pots that are exposed to the sun can get really hot, and the soil can dry out before you know it. If your plants are assuming strange postures, that’s a cry for help!
Take the time to remove dead leaves and stalks. Make your inspection every day – it’s a great way to reward yourself with a little “Zen time” after a long day at the office. Now all that’s left is to enjoy the fruit of your labours…
Gardening is great for your health, not to mention the health of the planet. Bonus: you get to enjoy all sorts of yummy veggies for a very small investment. Now get out there and dig in!
More tips on watering:
Some great ideas for urban vegetable gardens:
Growing herbs in a rolling cart from IKEA: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/180144053822653405/
In wooden boxes: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/91549804902966006/
In mason jars or jam jars: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/526499012669099893/
Raised beds: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/654710864552584195/
Some savvy tips and tricks on planting your city garden: