Live in the City? Try These Awesome Urban Gardening Hacks

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Do you live in the city? Perhaps in an apartment, townhouse, or a condo where you have limited outdoor space? If this is the case, and you are longing to grow your own fresh, delicious, and nutritious produce, I have great news for you. Not only is it possible for you to grow your own food in a very limited space, including a balcony or patio, but you are going to have a blast doing it. Here are my top garden hacks for those of you who live in the city.

Grow up, up, up

Vertical gardening is so awesome!  If you have access to outdoor walls, roofs, railings, and even window sills, you can take advantage of vertical space. Try leaning a trellis against an outside wall or railing. Grow climbing beans to create a living curtain of food. The best varieties are the bright red Scarlet Emperor or the salmon-pink Celebration. Pallets, which are often free, make great living walls. Simply staple some landscape fabric to the back and fill with lightweight potting soil. Grow greens and herbs and wild strawberries in an attractive vertical display

Go with containers

You will be amazed at just how much food you can actually grow in containers. A few five-gallon buckets will give you enough space for your favorite tomato and pepper plants, while shallower containers work well for leafy greens and herbs. Lean your buckets up against a wall and slip a trellis behind for cucumbers, peas, and beans. Keep in mind that containers dry out quicker than conventional garden soil, so keep an eye on your plants and keep them well watered.

Elevated raised garden beds

If you have a little patio or balcony space, consider employing an elevated garden box. These boxes are not only practical but also make an attractive addition to your outdoor living space. For long-lasting and beautiful elevated beds, consider purchasing ones made from cedar. Cedar is pretty, smells delightful, and resists rot while keeping pests away.

Hook on some planters

If you have a railing on your balcony, you might want to consider using planters that will hook directly on your railing. If you live above the first floor, it is a good idea to check to be sure that you won’t be watering your neighbors when you water your plants. Railing planters are an attractive addition to your patio and, depending on the depth and size of your planter box; you will be able to grow tons of plants, including carrots, radishes, greens, flowers, herbs and more for easy picking.

Hanging down

Not only do hanging colorful flower baskets make an excellent addition to your outdoor living space, but you can grow much more than flowers in a hanging basket. Try tomatoes, strawberries, and even cucumbers in a hanging planter. Dwarf varieties tend to do best in upside-down planters and hanging baskets. Be sure that you secure your pots and containers so that they will support the mature weight of your plant and any fruit.

No outdoor space?

If you don’t have any outdoor space, don’t fret. You can easily grow some tasty and delicious produce, including herbs and greens in a south or west-facing window. Additionally, you can set up an indoor grow light system and successfully grow all sorts of plants. If you want a big bang for your buck and time, try your hand with microgreens. Growing these highly nutritious mini-plants takes very little space and some are ready to harvest and enjoy in as little as a week!

Tips for success

If you want to achieve high success with your urban gardening journey, remember these things:

  • Test the amount of sun that your patio receives and when. Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
  • Water consistently and deeply. Water often to keep container plants from drying out. Sometimes that might be as much as twice per day.
  • Have a way to bring hanging plants down and protect them during inclement weather, such as heavy wind.
  • Plant a few pots of flowers. Having flowers set out on your patio or balcony will help attract necessary pollinators.
  • Use lightweight soil only in container gardening on a patio or balcony. 
  • Feed plants using a balanced organic fertilizer to encourage healthy blooms and fruiting.
  • Once your plants start producing, pick produce regularly to encourage new growth and more fruit.

Remember, where there is a desire, there is a way! Happy gardening.

-Susan Patterson

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