Living in the city doesn’t mean you can’t grow some of your own food. Even if you have no garden at all, think balconies, windowsills, apartment rooftops or community gardens. They are all potential urban gardens.
The effort and initial small investment of money and time will pay off in many ways.The benefits of growing food in your urban garden:
Fresher and better tasting food – food is picked and eaten straight so it doesn’t lose the nutrients
Healthier food – eating fresh and organic gives you peace of mind that no chemicals are present, even if it’s just few herbs it’s a step forward
Kinder to the environment – no petrol used to transport the food to the shops, no need to hop in the car for it and no soil is harmed by organic gardening practices
Saves money – almost “free” compared to organic food form shops
Educational – kids can learn so much form growing an organic garden (adults too!) and food is more appreciated and less wasted
Plants suitable for containers or small urban gardens:
Herbs – the easiest to start with. The taste of freshly picked herbs is incomparable to the shop bought that traveled long distances and spent days in the refrigerators. Herbs grow happily in containers or in the garden bed.Plant seedlings from the local garden centre or directly from seeds – which is more economical.
Choose herbs you use most in cooking. Popular are parsley, chives, coriander, basil, thyme, mint. Some herbs such as mint, sage, thyme or lemongrass make wonderful herbal teas. Pick regularly as it promotes new young shoots and delays flowering.
Vegetables – lettuce leaves, tomatoes and chilies are all pot loving veggies. Plant them in a container filled with quality potting mix that has at least one hole for drainage.You can mix veggies with herbs and the best example of companion growing is tomato-basil combination.
For a small urban garden or raised bed choose varieties that don’t use a lot of space. Spring onions, radishes, spinach, silverbeet (chard), garlic, leek, climbing beans, carrots, tomatoes and lettuces are crops that use limited garden space efficiently. Ask at your local nursery or garden shop if in doubt.
Fruit – my favorites are strawberries! Easy to grow in the hanging baskets, pots or in the garden, the taste of home grown is sensational. Other fruits easily grown in pots are lemons, mandarins, dwarf apples and pears, figs and other.
If the benefits of urban gardening sound appealing to you, then you should start planning out your urban garden today. Begin with few pots of herbs and in no time you will be expanding to veggies and fruit. Go to the local nursery, grab a book on gardening, watch a TV gardening program or search on the internet for inspiration. Involve the whole family and/or friends. Gardening, be it on small or large scale is very rewarding and soooo much fun!