Growing an urban garden on a balcony or rooftop isn’t as difficult as it seems with the right conditions and containers.
Even if you live in the middle of a thriving metropolis, you have the ability to grow a garden and take advantage of urban gardening tips. Many apartment dwellers have rooftops or balconies on which to grow a few things. Many neighborhoods come together to plant community urban gardens on lands that have had houses torn down and nothing else was built. You can even grow certain things indoors using grow lights. If you are a city dweller, and you want a garden, you usually can have one. The following are some tips to use when creating a garden in the city.
Containers are an important part of urban gardening. In many cases, it is impossible to put plants right in the ground since the growing area is a balcony or rooftop. The plants have to grow in containers. Each container has to have holes in the bottom that allow for drainage when the plant is watered or when it rains. Standing water on roots is sure death to any plant. To grow vegetables, use a container 14 to 18 inches deep. Those vegetables with deep roots, like potatoes, require a container more than 18 inches deep. Flowers can take a container that is about 12 inches because their roots are shallow. Culinary herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary and savory can be planted in a window box, but basil requires at least a 12-inch deep pot because of the long roots. Because the containers are in the sun all the time, they dry out quickly. Self-watering containers are good for urban gardens because they contain a reservoir of water that allows the plant to never dry out. Light colored pots might be better than their darker counterparts because the light color reflects heat while dark colors absorb it. Sitting on a roof top absorbing heat all day, might not be the best thing for your plants. Use a straight sided container that does not have a smaller base than top for areas prone to windy conditions. They are less likely to blow over in the wind.
Plants growing in an urban environment get a great deal of sun since trees are at a minimum. You may have to screen the plants from the sun part of the day when it gets hot and you must water frequently since the moisture will dry quickly. Only the top two inches of soil should be dry when ready to water again. Plants need at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun per day but in urban gardening, you may be able to get away with about 6 hours. If another building shades the plants half the day, you will never get a good harvest. Soil is necessary for growing plants. Sterile potting soil is the best type of soil to use because it usually has all the nutrients a new plant needs to get started. Soil from the ground tends to become compacted in a pot and becomes the consistency of concrete, which is not right for a new plant to stretch its roots in. When you plant in a container, first put in about 1 inch of gravel or stone. Not only does this help the container to drain better, but it weights it down a little for the plant so it won’t tip over in high wind.
Pernnials, annuals, herbs and vegetables need too much sun and fresh air to grow, but you might be able to get some plants to grow on a sunny windowsill or in an area with grow lights. Grow lights can be mounted above a table or shelf on which plants grow in pots. You can grow African Violets, ivy, and other houseplants with grow lights, but vegetables might be impossible to grow without an outdoor space.
Growing plants vertically gives you much more room than to grow them horizontally on a patio or rooftop. Make a tent with bamboo stakes over a container and allow plants like peas, beans and cucumbers to grow up them. Put chicken wire against a wall in a rooftop garden and tie trailing vegetables and flowers to the wire so they grow vertically. Install trellises on the balcony for plants to grow u. You can even grow watermelon and use nylon stockings as a sling to stabilize them on the vertical garden. Columnar fruit trees are small, single trunk trees that grow easily in pots and produce a small amount of apples, pears and other fruit.
Succession gardening works very well in small spaces. The idea is to plant different seedlings every few weeks to get the optimum amount of plants growing in the garden. Peas, cabbage, spinach and lettuce can take cold weather and do not take long before they are harvested. These would be planted early in one section of the garden or in a few containers and two weeks later more seeds would be planted. Once those plants are harvested and done, they can be removed and hot weather vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers can be planted in the same place.
Urban community gardens are swiftly becoming very popular in cities. ACGA, or American Community Garden Association should have listings of community gardens in cities all over the US. If you can’t find it there, contact the local cooperative extension service. In a community garden, people in the city plan and plant a garden on land that has been abandoned. They do have to get permission from the city to do this, and most cities do allow for this. You might get a small area in which you can plant and tend your own garden, or you may be one of many that tend the garden and share the produce.
Where there is a will, there is a way. Use these urban gardening tips to plant a garden on your balcony, rooftop, or on a little plot of land in a community garden. You can even grow some things indoors using grow lights. Fresh grown lettuce, tomatoes and flowers are a pleasure even an apartment dweller can have.