Indoor & Container Gardening

The Neophyte’s Guide to Urban Gardening

September 22, 2014
Rooftop garden

If you live in a city, fresh, local produce can sometimes prove hard to come by. While you may be lucky enough to have a local farmers’ market just a metro stop away from your apartment, you may be looking for a more hands-on experience when it comes to your fruits and vegetables.

Maybe you’ve succeeded in not killing your houseplants and feel like you’re ready for the next step, or maybe you’re a seasoned pro who isn’t sure how to transfer their green-thumbed skills to the big city. If you feel the desire to grow your own garden and live off the land, but barely have enough square footage to live comfortably in your own apartment, you’re ready to give urban gardening a try. Not sure where to start? Start with the neophyte’s guide to urban gardening.

What is Urban Gardening?
As the importance of cooking with and eating fresh, organic and local produce has become increasingly important for Americans, urban gardening has become a popular hobby for city-dwellers. Instead of searching through supermarkets for certified organic produce or shopping at weekly farmers markets, many urbanites have begun to test out their own green thumb with urban gardening. It’s about living a purposeful and non-wasteful life in a big city.

While there is certainly not enough space within a city for a large garden or farm, many urban gardeners use community garden spaces in their city to plant, grow and harvest their own crops. At these community garden spaces, interested gardeners can buy or lease a piece of land to use throughout the year to create their own “victory garden.” Depending on the amount of indoor and outdoor space, along with the amount of sunlight and heat, many urban gardeners will have their own potted gardens in their apartments.

Benefits of Urban Gardening
With the amount of farmers’ markets and the variety of produce that can be found within cities, it may seem odd urbanites do their own gardening at all. However, growing your own food has many benefits and can be very rewarding. By planting and growing food locally, the need for transporting outsourced food into the city can be reduced (if only very slightly). Also, knowing the origin of your produce can ensure that what you are consuming is local, fresh and organic. Finally, gardening can be therapeutic and a stress-relieving activity.

Ways to Practice Urban Gardening In Your City
If you want to live off the land but don’t have any land to call your own, there are plenty of ways to get started in your very own apartment.


Lease a Space at a Community Garden
Community garden

Image credit:  Mike Linksvayer

More likely than not your city has at least one, if not several, ordained community gardens. These spaces are a great place to plant and grow the bigger crops you desire. Plants that require more soil, sunlight and space to grow are best tended to here. Not only will a community garden provide you with the space to grow but also you can get the knowledge and support of other urban gardeners.


Garden on Your Fire Escape
Fire escape garden

Image credit:  Kristine Paulus

If you’re lucky enough to have a fire escape (or luckier yet, a tiny backyard in the city) you can grow a garden using pots. Several different types of vegetables will not only survive but thrive if planted in a pot and grown outside. Peppers and tomatoes are often popular potted plants that grow well with care and sunlight. Other common potted plants include leafy greens like lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard, and root veggies like beets, carrots and kohlrabi. If possible find a wise house cat to oversee your plants in your stead.


Grow Herbs in Your Apartment
Growing herbs in apartment

Image credit:  Julia Manzerova

If you don’t have enough space for gardening outdoors in large pots, you can grow herbs inside of your apartment. As long as you have a windowsill for your plants to harvest sunlight you can successfully grow several different herbs, including basil, parsley, oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme.

If you live in a city but want to feel like you live in the country, urban gardening could become your next hobby. Not only will you yield fresh produce but you will also feel intense pride in growing your own food and “going green.” So whether you choose to use a community garden, your fire escape or even your windowsill for your urban gardening, you will feel a little more green in your city.


Main image credit:  Leong Him Woh

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