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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7/17/2016 4:37:02 PM

LOULOU1709's SparkPage
I've always wanted to grow tomatoes in the house. I didn't see any comments about that. I hope everyone has a Blessed Day on the Lord's Day! Linda!


7/17/2016 4:33:16 PM

LOULOU1709's SparkPage
I've always wanted to grow tomatoes in the house. I didn't see any comments about that. I hope everyone has a Blessed Day on the Lord's Day! Linda!


5/17/2015 5:09:42 PM

UNIQUE55's SparkPage
I have been growing chives and basil in the house all winter. However, I am not sure why, but when I plant the basil in soil or buy it already growing in soil... the stems grow black from the bottom up and I lose the plant. Yet, When I cut a stem and put it into a glass, clear glass with water in the window sill, they sprout roots and thrive in the water only environment. Wondering why? Has anyone else had trouble growing basil in the house?


4/30/2014 11:46:01 AM

I have a tiny plot of land next to my house and use it for vegetables. I also have window boxes in my front porch. Might try some veggies there.


5/18/2013 12:05:17 PM

I live in a 3rd floor condo with a small balcony. I tried peppers from a plant successfully but now I have nothing. I added packaged seeds to the pot. However, some "varmint" got into the pot, displaced the soil and ate all of the seeds. I'm at a lost for my next move! Help me, please. I grow basil and chives right next to it successfully.


5/18/2013 12:12:47 AM

KOKODIVA83's SparkPage
I tried patio gardening last year, I got one jalapeno and a tomato bud. Doing just a herb garden this year I think. Some fresh basil is always good.


5/17/2013 11:08:32 PM

FIREWEED1056's SparkPage
I have been a fan of container gardening for years. I started two heirloom tomatoes and a cucumber yesterday, and am on my third year with 8 roses. They really brighten up the rest of the landscaping in my small yard.


5/17/2013 10:29:51 PM

I have grown tomatoes, green beans and peas in pots for years. They need watering every other day if you use the big tubs with rope handles you can buy in Wal Mart cheap. drill holes in the bottom and about 2 inches up the side go around and drill holes. This lets the water get out and not drown the plant. Fertilize every couple of weeks and soon you will be eating your own veggies.


5/17/2013 8:32:14 PM

POWER2XCEL's SparkPage


5/17/2013 12:07:13 PM

Thank you! I like the info in this format. A lot of helpful information in a short and easy read .... Well Done!


5/17/2013 11:32:30 AM

Thyme survives year 'round in a pot on my kitchen window sill and is readily available to use in food-but it doesn' t flower which is a shame.

The general rule for outside containers is the bigger the better-as lots of other people have mentioned, the pots dry out quickly.

For my liftable pots I use a watering tub (Rubbermaid tote or whatever you have) and place pots in it for atleast 10 minutes (and up to several hours) each so they get a thorough soaking. The idea is that you train the plants to endure a bit of drying out and then they receive a soak (usually with plant food in the water). It really works and means that you don't have to water them every day.

I live on the coast and use eelgrasses and seaweeds as mulch as well as grass clippings and leaves. Mulching is essential for keeping the moisture in the pots.


5/17/2013 9:57:24 AM

HOLALOLA's SparkPage
We have a small balcony overlooking a freeway and we grow herbs, lettuce, beets, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, green onions, green garlic, spinach, beans, and flowers in pots, You do need to water almost every day but it's worth it. You also need to do your research. If your tomatoes (or cucumbers in our case) flower but don't fruit, it might be because you don't have bees to help pollinate them and you have to do it yourself. And use at least a 6-8 inch pot for herbs and flowers, bigger for bigger plants. Those adorable small ones dry out fast and aren't big enough to grow much that you can eat.

Keep trying! This year we're going to add mint and sunflowers.


5/17/2013 8:32:30 AM

I love living in the country with plenty of room to create beauty but it is nice to see it done so well with such little space.


5/17/2013 7:38:58 AM

DELLMEL's SparkPage
I have a garden every year. I love working my garden. Never tried in the house. Think I will give it a try. Love all the fresh veggies.


5/17/2013 7:37:54 AM

SMILES4383's SparkPage
Container gardens require CREATIVE WATERING.....
There are many methods that allow for 'owner freedom'.
It's a WIN/WIN.....


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