5 Gardening Solutions for Urbanites

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No Yard? No Problem!

Written by Jenny Sigler, SparkPeople Contributor

Don't be discouraged you see what seems like an impossible feat: gardening in an urban environment. An urban Eden can be in a pot, basket or planter box, on a balcony, deck, or windowsill. It can even take the shape of your very own plot in a communal garden near your home. If you have the desire to plant, there are plenty of ways to get there, no matter where you live! Here are five ways urban dwellers can grow fruits, veggies and herbs without setting foot in suburbia.

Indoor Gardening

Growing plants indoors can help purify the air, add color to your rooms, and give you the freedom to grow many things that might not be able to thrive outdoors. Herbs are a very popular choice for indoor growers. Try growing some in small pots on a sunny windowsill, especially in the kitchen, and you'll have the freshest, most fragrant herbs on hand for cooking. All indoor plants will naturally turn toward the light source as they grow, so it is important to periodically rotate the pots for balanced growth. Harvest your plants regularly so they don't outgrow their homes. Try growing chives, oregano, mint, thyme, sage, basil, and rosemary. Other non-edible plants that work well indoors include bonsai trees, orchids, violets, begonias, and peace lilies.

Hanging Garden

If you have a small balcony or porch with an overhang, then you have room for hanging plant baskets. First, consider the weight of the plant and the structures that are available to support it. Some plants can hang from chains indoors; others can hang on a shepherd's hook staked into the ground or hanging from a balcony. If your plant with be high off the ground, consider using an extension on your hose, such as a watering wand, to make watering easy. (This will save you the hassle of taking it down every time it needs a drink.) Use caution and consider the drainage needs of your plants. Many hanging plants don't hold moisture as well. Strawberries do well in hanging baskets--and they look great! Peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes hang well, too; look for special inverted planters for these plants. If you want to bring more greenery and less produce to your porch, try hanging petunias, impatiens, morning glories, lobelia flowers, geraniums, German ivy, or Wandering Jew.

Window Garden

Outdoor window boxes are an attractive option when you're short on green space. Store-purchased boxes are widely available at nurseries and home improvement stores, but if you're handy, you can build your own out of lumber, or recycle some old drawers or even lunch boxes! Make sure your window boxes have holes in the bottom (for drainage). Once you fill a window box with dirt, it can be shockingly heavy, so secure it tightly to your building with brackets from the hardware store. When in doubt, ask questions and get advice from the staff to make sure you're hanging your boxes properly. Window boxes aren't just for flowers, though you certainly can grow them there. Any reasonably short-rooted plants, including herbs, beets, lettuce, onions, spinach and radishes can thrive in window boxes. Violets, impatiens, morning glories, nasturtiums, petunias, and marigolds will add a splash of color and boost your curb appeal, too.

Container Garden

The best part of container gardening is that you determine where to place your garden. It can be on a rooftop, balcony, or desk, and you can switch it around as you see fit. Don't feel like you have to limit yourself to the traditional terra cotta or plastic pots, either. Any container with adequate drainage can be a home for your plants. Be creative with what you have on hand--repurpose old yogurt containers into planters, for example. If your budget allows, nurseries and home improvement stores have a bounty of containers. Think about your plant's specific needs for moisture retention, temperature and root space when selecting containers. Remember to group plants with similar needs together (yes, you can grow more than one type of plant in a single pot) for gardening efficiency. Grow cherry tomatoes, strawberries, chives, radishes, shorter varieties of carrots, herbs and green beans in containers, or enhance your space with flowers.

Community Garden

If you don't have enough space for the solutions above, or you simply want to expand your gardening horizons, then a community garden is for you. Beyond giving you a small plot of land on which to grow whatever edibles, plants or flowers your heart desires, community gardening also broadens your social network as you and other gardeners share a communal space and get to know one another. Most cities have land set aside where ordinary citizens may come and get their nails dirty. Joining a community garden usually involves a small fee, but it gives you a space all your own. To find a community garden near you, visit www.CommunityGarden.org.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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HEARTSOYOUNG

4/15/2011 11:31:04 AM

Love these ideas. Will try some container gardening this year.

DONNA558

4/8/2011 9:04:06 AM

I am growing kids favorite plant that looks like something out of the Harry Potter movie!
The TickleMe Plant is the worlds most interactive Plant. Now it can easily be grown in the TickleMe Plant Greenhouse I found on line at Ticklemeplant.com or just search TickleMe Plant. The leaves instantly fold and even the branches droop when Tickled.. It even produces tiny breathtaking pink flowers.
See the Video...This is real

HOMEMANTRA

3/24/2011 5:15:44 PM

HOMEMANTRA's SparkPage
just when i needed some inspiration .. i always used to say i don't own a house, no more excuse now

WALKZWDOGZ

2/28/2011 1:42:18 PM

WALKZWDOGZ's SparkPage
Lettuce does well in hanging baskets too. Even if you have garden space, it's a great way to beat the slugs. I planted a viola in with 2 colors of Salad Bowl lettuce. Pretty & a salad with edible flowers! (Nasturtiums work for flowers too. Just get organic or grow your own.)

TAMMYLO

8/20/2010 9:53:10 AM

good advice

GIVEUP30

5/14/2010 4:43:42 AM

GIVEUP30's SparkPage
I like garden tomatoes, strawberries etc.

FREDANNA

4/13/2010 5:01:36 PM

FREDANNA's SparkPage
Nop plants on the veranda? That's even worse than my condo board!

JIM2148

3/25/2010 9:34:55 PM

JIM2148's SparkPage
Any thoughts regarding growing herbs & spices in a home garden?

SPECEDKAT

3/25/2010 7:01:17 PM

SPECEDKAT's SparkPage
I have planted tomatoes successfully in containers on the deck. This year I hope to try bell peppers as well. Really don't have much experience with outdoor gardening. Find I'm rather intimidated. I've always had great success with house plants, but last year I tried indoor herbs and they all died. Never could find out what I did wrong, but would like to try that again also.

TSMOTIVATION

3/25/2010 3:24:31 PM

TSMOTIVATION's SparkPage
This is for THEVELVETROSE. It can be difficult growing things without much sunlight. But, don't lose hope. Many of the veggies that like cooler temperatures will survive and should provide you with some nice greens. Try any of the lettuces, swiss chard, spinach and even peas.

KISSOFBETRAYAL

3/25/2010 3:21:05 PM

I'm in a townhouse with a small balcony. I love to grow my own veggies and am going to try doing this this summer. Also think I'll be trying some indoor herbs and spices. This weekend will go hunting to see my options. ;-)

LPNBARNES

3/25/2010 12:39:59 PM

LPNBARNES's SparkPage
This is my first attempt at container veggies. So far my peas are doing GREAT!! The cherry tomatoes are coming up, and hopefully the bell peppers are right behind! Renting a house in Phoenix, AZ makes it hard to do a garden, so co ntainers it is!!

WISH ME LUCK!!!

LADYDEE54

3/24/2010 10:42:58 AM

LADYDEE54's SparkPage
Last year I tried growing sweet peppers in containers on my deck. For a first time, I think I did very well since the plants yielded at least 5 peppers on each. I did learn that I didn't use a large enough pot to allow space for them to grow so this year, they should really thrive. This year, I am trying my hands at growing lettuce. I planted the seeds over the weekend and we shall see what they produce. Wish me luck!!

BSMO1987

3/19/2010 10:05:34 PM

BSMO1987's SparkPage
I can't wait to start my container garden! I have roof access and I plan on growing my own vegetables, herbs, and perhaps a few flowers.

GJSISSON

3/19/2010 11:31:08 AM

GJSISSON's SparkPage
This will be my first growing season in Utah, so am looking forward to trying some containers on my deck. I have lots of houseplants that I love and hope that my outdoor growing is as successful.

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