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Setting up your Urban Vegetable Garden (Guest Blog)

Setting up your Urban Vegetable Garden

There has never been a better time to set up your own urban veggie garden. Even if you’re new to the idea of gardening, with the right space, the right materials and the right guidance, you can still start your very own urban garden. Read on for some advice and insight that will inspire you to start enjoying the fruits of your labor without ever having to leave the house.

Where to Set up an Urban Garden

Urban gardening can be done anywhere. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, designate a section solely to your garden. However, if you live in a small condo or apartment, you can still enjoy gardening at home. Talk to your landlord and see if they’d be willing to allow a rooftop garden in a shared common space. A rooftop garden is fun to maintain, and you can share gardening tips and delicious food with your neighbors. Even a small balcony can be transformed into a garden using pots and small planters. As long as you have enough sunlight and live in a decent climate, you can start a garden anywhere. For those with limited space, consider indoor gardening using a mini greenhouse or pots with a grow light. Whatever you choose, you can set up your garden at home for a fun way to plant, grow, and eat your favorite healthy vegetables.

Materials Required

While urban gardening is similar to gardening a rural area, there are a few things you may need to do differently. Use this checklist to help you get started:

  • A selection of seeds or small plants that you know will grow in area
  • Gardening soil (soil in cities may be contaminated or lack the proper nutrients)
  • Pots, containers, or materials to make a raised garden bed or greenhouse
  • Plant food
  • A watering can or a hose with a sprinkler nozzle
  • Pruning shears, a trowel, and some quality gardening gloves
  • Plant markers to label your fruits/veggies
  • If you have the room, a composting bin is a great addition to an urban garden

Planting Veggies

Plant your vegetables the right way will lead to a healthy, productive garden. While you may need to tweak your planting to suit your climate or your location, there are some basics that everyone should know for successful urban agriculture.

  • Separate seeds and small plants by type to prevent the spread of disease and overcrowding.
  • Plant your seeds at the time of year based on the specific species so that they grow before it gets too cold.
  • Use a quality garden soil and fill your garden bed or container about halfway, then cover the seed or roots with soil until it reaches the top.
  • Water your plants regularly, but don’t overwater them or it could cause root rot.
  • Use eco-friendly pesticides to protect your plants from getting destroyed by pests.
  • Cut away the dead parts of your veggies to encourage new growth.
  • Start with veggies that are easy to grow like herbs, lettuce, and cucumbers. As you gain confidence, you can get creative with new vegetables.

Tips and Tricks

Urban farming is easy once you get the hang of it, here are some extra tips and tricks use to make the process go smoothly.

  • Grow a mini herb garden in small pots on your kitchen windowsill. Most herbs like plenty of sunlight, and you can grab some as you cook if they’re nearby.
  • Pay attention to how the sun rises and sets on your balcony or rooftop to strategically place your plants in an area where they’ll get maximum sunlight.
  • If you’re short on space, consider a vertical garden you can grow on a wall or fence to maximize your harvest.
  • Leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, and bok choi grow well in partial sun or shady areas.
  • Fertilize your veggies regularly with an organic fertilizer to keep them healthy.
  • If your neighbors have an urban garden, consider growing something different and then trading your veggies for maximum benefit.
  • Use a trellis to support climbing vine veggies like peas, beans, and gourds.
  • Add color to your garden by incorporating some flowers. Grow the flowers in pots so you can move them around as needed.
  • If you can’t use a hose, choose plants that will get enough water via a watering can.
  • Use grow lights and bring your veggies inside during the winter to keep the harvest going.

A Mini Greenhouse in Your Backyard

Although urban living can feel cramped, there’s no reason why you can’t garden your own veggies at home. One easy way to cultivate and enjoy urban gardening is to create your very own mini greenhouse. Greenhouses keep plants warm, protected, and healthy. You can also garden year-round when you have a mini greenhouse, which makes the idea even more appealing for city dwellers. If you want to create a mini-greenhouse in your backyard or patio, there are a few things you need to know before you begin.

Materials Required

A mini greenhouse uses small everyday objects and household items to recreate the same environment as a standard-sized greenhouse. You can make your mini greenhouse from several different materials, so consider these options to help you get started:

  • Use a one or two-liter plastic bottle and cut off the top. Attach several together using a hot glue gun and fill them with dirt and plant your seeds. Cut small slits in the top section of the bottle, then replace it to keep moisture and heat in while your veggies grow.
  • A Mason jar makes a fantastic mini greenhouse. Simply fill it with dirt, seeds, and small rocks and then replace the top to create a small terrarium.
  • An old fish tank is a perfect alternative to a standard greenhouse. Fill the fish tank with small pots or use it as a large terrarium. Add a lid using plastic wrap to keep moisture and warmth inside.
  • Connect four picture frames of the same size together using small nails or screws. Remove the backing of the frames and just use the glass and the main frame as the structure for your mini greenhouse to create a box-like structure. You can attach another frame to the bottom or leave it as-is and place it on a table or balcony. Create a roof for your greenhouse with four more frames and attach it with hinges so you can open and close it whenever you need to water your plants.
  • Create a greenhouse frame by connecting PVC pipes together with T-joints and elbow joints. Place the frame over a raised garden bed and cover it with clear plastic or a lightweight cloth to recreate a smaller version of a greenhouse. You can adjust the size to suit your needs, but make sure you space each section about two feet apart so it’s secure and sturdy.

Setting up and Using Your Greenhouse

Once you decide which style greenhouse you want to use, it’s time to set it up for gardening. Choose an area where your greenhouse will get plenty of sun and try not to place it near the edge of the balcony where it might accidentally blow off or get knocked over. Make sure your greenhouse has proper drainage or else it could cause root rot. Drilling or cutting small holes in the bottom will allow extra water to escape. Try to keep one type of veggie in each greenhouse so that it can thrive. Certain plants may overtake others if they’re in a cramped space together.

If you’re planning to keep your greenhouse indoors, use grow lights to ensure that your veggies are getting enough light. Put the lights on a timer so that it mimics the same cycle of sunlight they’d normally get outdoors. Greenhouses are great for starter seeds, so use yours to get your vegetables strong and ready for outdoor planting. You don’t have to use your mini greenhouse just for veggies, either. They’re also a great option if you want to grow cacti and succulents or flowers like orchids. Monitor moisture levels in the greenhouse since too much water can cause fungal diseases.

You don’t need a horticulture degree to set up an urban garden, container garden, or greenhouse. With a bit of practice and some knowledge about plant life, it’s easy to enjoy a beautiful, fruitful urban garden. Talk to your landlord and your neighbors about setting a rooftop garden and exchange your harvest so everyone can enjoy fresh fruits or veggies. Learn planting tricks so that you have a bountiful garden and some valuable knowledge you can share with others in your community.

Originally posted on Porch.com who focus on helping people achieve their home goals. Whether it’s by connecting you to a professional, or offering advice on how to make a backyard edible garden for you or your family.

Additional Resources

Creating the Best At-Home Composting System
Easy Vegetables to Grow
10 Tips to Conserve Water in Your Yard

This Guest Post was contributed by Porch.com

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