Just because you’re a city-dweller does not mean that you can’t have your own little garden. It is possible to cultivate your own fresh vegetables in a tiny space; even something as small as a fire escape or balcony. As long as you have sunshine and can take the time to water and properly care for your produce, you can enjoy the fruits of your labors.
Trust me, it’s worth it. What a great feeling it is to plant, grow, harvest and eat your own food. Plus, it’s a great way to impress your friends or that special someone! If you’re serious about growing your own food (salad tonight, anyone?), check out the beginner’s guide to urban gardening and get started.
Pick Your Place
You may have more options than you think when it comes to your city garden. Try the fire escape, balcony, windowsill or even railings. Basically, any outdoor space you have could be the perfect place for your garden. Make sure you have easy access so you can properly care for your garden every day.
Contain Your Garden
Once you have a spot, you’ll need to figure out the best way to grow your plants. Many people prefer the ease of container gardening, which uses planter boxes, large pots or hanging baskets to grow produce. You can even recycle certain items, such as plastic soda bottles, for your garden goods. Lettuces and herbs do especially well in these. Make sure whatever container you use has good draining; you don’t want to drown your dinner!
Choose Your Soil
You’ll need special potting soil to encourage your plants to grow. Make sure you buy a good-quality mixture that includes sand, peat moss and loamy garden soil. When you fill your container, be sure to leave about two inches of space at the top so you can add a layer of mulch. Trust me, it’s worth it. It will help keep weeds at bay, help retain moisture and keeps soil temperature steady.
You’re probably wondering what the best items to grow in a small space are. Different types of lettuces work especially well, as do radishes, beans, tomatoes, carrots, onions and cucumbers. Keep in mind that some of these veggies may require more space than others, so be sure to do your homework.
The best place to procure your plants is from a local source, such as a farmers market or nursery. Not only will you get plants that are just plant-and-go, but also you will likely cultivate a relationship with the farmer that will truly pay off. She can share advice and offer tips on how to best care for the specific vegetables you’ve decided on, and give pointers if you run into any problems.
Care and Feeding
Make sure your garden gets about five hours of sunlight each day and water daily. Container gardens tend to dry out easily, so getting enough water is critical. Other than that, containers are pretty low-maintenance and tend to be relatively free of weeds.
Once you begin to see those vegetables grow, all your hard work and planning will pay off. There’s nothing quite like picking your own lettuce or cherry tomato and popping it right into your mouth. Who needs the farm-to-table trend when fire-escape to table works just as well?