Urban Gardening – that’s how it works!

Urban Gardening is gardening in the smallest space. My suggestions show you that gardening does not require a garden – balcony or roof do the same.

Urban Gardening
© reisegraf.ch – Fotolia.com

Not everyone lives in the countryside and therefore has a wide range of opportunities to fulfil their dreams while gardening. But the green thumb does not necessarily have to rest. Urban gardening offers undreamt-of possibilities, even in small areas and in the middle of the city, to accomplish great things. Here you can read what exactly this trend means and how tomatoes and onions will soon grow in your city. Hobby gardeners learn to be creative themselves and to simply use everyday objects as planters. Urban Gardening begins with this – a trend that can begin on your own balcony or even in the smallest kitchen.

Urban Gardening – what is it?

Simply put, urban gardening is nothing more than gardening in the smallest of spaces. In the cities there is a lack of extensive useful areas, therefore special demands are made on the hobby gardener. In many places, for example, green spaces within settlement areas are used as community gardens. There they try to garden in harmony with nature. Even in backyards and front gardens, beds can be planted and in the end everyone who plants an old bathtub, a disused wheelbarrow or an old wooden box on the balcony practices nothing but urban gardening.

What makes urban gardening so attractive?

For many hobby gardeners and environmentally friendly and ecologically thinking people, the cultivation of regional fruit and vegetables in cities is a concern that urban gardening corresponds to. Urban gardening doesn’t just mean harvesting fresh fruit and vegetables and enjoying the splendour of flowers, it also means forgetting the anonymity of the big city and literally bringing it closer together. The city gardeners come from very different age groups, social classes and cultures. Last but not least, the increased number of food scandals is an aspect of playing it safe and largely self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables.

A not so new trend prevails

Only since a few years we hear more about Urban Gardening. However, the urban horticulture is older than expected. In earlier times, every town also had an area where fruit and vegetables were grown. In past centuries, transport routes would have been far too long and food would have been spoiled long ago if they had reached their destination.

As the father of the urban gardener. Johann Heinrich von Thünen be understood. In the 19th century, the scientist founded the Thünen Rings. This land use model provided for fruit and vegetables and other perishable foods to be grown near the city and later sold on the urban markets. This took place on a large scale. In Paris, for example, there were about 8,500 self-employed gardeners who cultivated an area of 1,400 hectares. This meant that fruit and vegetables were grown on one-sixth of the city area at that time, about 100,000 tons per year.

Cuba is regarded as the founder of modern urban gardening. At the beginning of the 1990s and in the course of the disintegration of the Eastern bloc, supply bottlenecks increased there. Food, fertilisers and oil had to be imported to a large extent. When people began to starve, the government acted and made unused fallow land available to the population to grow fruit and vegetables. Fertilizer was not in stock, so at the same time the ecological management was justified. Even today, the inhabitants of Havana still produce about a third of the vegetables they need themselves, right in the middle of the metropolis.

What possibilities does Urban Gardening offer?

One for all – community gardens

These are urban properties which are managed by several persons. These areas are usually open to the public. Public land can be made available or private persons can make their land accessible to the general public. The owners of community gardens can be private individuals, church associations, schools or political groups.

The fallow land is usually not cultivated in the municipal community garden, but a mobile garden is created. The plants are planted in transportable raised beds made of pallets or in sacks, wooden boxes or rain barrels. Thus it is possible that the complete garden can “move” with little effort, if the city wants to reclaim the land and build on it.

Urban Gardening on the roof garden

rooftop gardens
© cu.here – Fotolia.com

Beds can also form on a flat roof. It should be a massive and stable roof. Furthermore, the roof must be sealed so that the irrigation water does not penetrate through the cracks. If the roof is sufficiently insulated, foils or bitumen membranes are laid out to keep moisture out. A layer of topsoil is then applied, which can then be planted.

Tip: Only a comparatively thin layer of earth can be applied to the roofs, which excludes the cultivation of larger and deep-rooted plants. As an alternative, tubs or tubs planted with plants can be placed on the roof.

Urban Gardening in the allotment garden

The creation of allotment gardens serves to provide the urban population with a bit of quality of life and at the same time to loosen up urban development and reduce noise and dust. Especially for families, an allotment garden is a welcome balance to city life. Here children can be given the opportunity to grow up a bit healthy and observe the growth and ripening of fruit and vegetables. In the allotment garden, immigrants, the unemployed, the disabled or senior citizens are also given the opportunity to practise urban gardening according to their means and possibilities.

Creative ideas for urban gardening on the balcony

Urban Gardening Balcony
© Hristina – Fotolia.com

As already mentioned, we speak of urban gardening when fermentation takes place in a confined space. A prime example of this is your own balcony. Now perhaps you will say that I have hardly any room to sit there myself, how am I supposed to plant flowers and grow herbs or vegetables? There is a whole range of ways in which you can garden in an urban environment, even in the most confined spaces. For example, if there is no room on the floor, why not use the walls? Plant pots and bowls with herbs and attach them to the wall. An old wall shelf can also be attached there and accommodate various planters.

Tip: A practical shelf that can be planted with herbs or even bush tomatoes has quickly been created from old dollar pallets.

You can also set up a kind of ladder and thus plant plants on several levels to save space. A particularly creative way of urban gardening for small balconies is with a flower pot, which consists of two parts and is planted above and below. If you plant your plant pot with herbs on top and tomatoes on the bottom, you will experience a little surprise, because the tomatoes will take on the taste of the herbs.

You like to sew and work with fabrics? Then it won’t be difficult for you to make a plant bag. Plant bags are particularly decorative and can be placed on the smallest balcony. Even strawberries or cress can be planted in it.

Flower boxes do not take up any space on the balcony, because they can easily be hung over the parapet. You can plant almost anything there, herbs can be sown and germinate within a few weeks. Tomato or strawberry plants are used and cultivated as in the bed.

How to become an urban gardener

You are enthusiastic about Urban Gardening and would like to do your own gardening as soon as possible? Nothing stands in the way of that.
Follow the steps below:

  1. Select location
  2. Optimal use of available space
  3. Get planters
  4. select and obtain suitable plants
  5. Sprouting seeds directly
  6. prefer plants
  7. Planting plant containers
  8. Water plants regularly

First the location should be determined. Would you like to join a community garden, have a roof garden in mind, want to equip the backyard with plants or turn your balcony into a green oasis? Once you have decided on a location, the space requirement is usually already determined. In the community garden you may be able to plant a mobile raised bed. On the balcony some smaller planters should fill the space optimally. So get yourself some appropriate planters:

  • raised beds
  • balcony boxes
  • baskets
  • hanging lights
  • plant pot
  • plant pockets
  • potato sacks
  • tubs

The plant containers are now filled with growing soil. There the seeds are spread directly or you first prefer the plants in separate plant containers and plant the pots and bowls with the young plants that have grown up. Position the planters accordingly. As a rule, the plants thrive best in the sun or in semi-shade. Now you must not forget to water the plants regularly and nothing stands in the way of healthy plant growth.

Urban Gardening – what can be grown?

Herbs are a classic for small-scale gardening – they can be planted in any flower pot.

Tip: If you don’t have a balcony, you can also set up herb pots in your own kitchen or create a traffic light with various herbs.

Popular herbs for urban gardening:

Which vegetables thrive in a small space?

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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