If you think it’s impossible to grow your own food because you don’t have a large yard or you live in the city…think again. There is a plethora of urban gardening options to create beautiful, productive edible gardens no matter where you live. The key to succeeding as an urban gardener is to choose the method(s) that make sense for your unique living situation and then give your plants what they need to thrive. Kevin helps you do just that.
But he doesn’t stop there. He also provides in-depth garden plans, from upcycled DIY projects and intensive hydroponic systems to beautiful and functional raised beds. Urban gardening is a real, growing, and important movement in today’s world. This fact-packed book is your roadmap to get growing today.
Urban gardening techniques featured include:
- Container Gardening
- Raised Beds
- Indoor Edibles
- Balconies and Rooftops
From the Publisher
Why Urban Gardening?
I could give a market bag full of grandiose reasons why urban gardening is a wonderful pastime to explore: fresher food, less environmental impact, a more beautiful home. But for me, the real reason is simple . . . it’s fun.
We live in an increasingly digital and disconnected world. Many of us, myself included, are either behind a computer or a steering wheel for much of the day. There’s not much time left to explore Mother Nature.
The solution? Bring Mother Nature into your home and start growing plants. Not only is it a wonderful way to reconnect with the natural world, but urban gardening (or suburban, exurban, or any other kind of gardening for that matter) can also fundamentally change your life.
About This Book
The goal of this book is simple: to help demystify the secrets of the “green thumb” and show you how to get started in urban gardening, no matter what type of living situation you’re in.
Green Thumb Basics
There’s an unlimited amount of information about how to grow specific fruits and veggies. What I’ve done throughout is try to reduce that information into essential knowledge you need to grow a beautiful, productive urban garden.
You’ll get these great benefits:
fresher, healthier produce that you can eat minutes after harvesting
a deeper appreciation for the food on your plate
stronger relationships with your neighbors, friends, and family
I know you’re tempted to dive right into the garden plans. And if you’re an experienced gardener, be my guest. But for new gardeners, or anyone in need of a brush up, check out this chapter, in which you’ll learn:
How to audit your living space and select the right methods for you
How plants use light, water, air, and nutrients
Epic DIY soil mixes to fit any budget
Whether you should start seeds or buy transplants
Understanding these foundational principles will help you be a better gardener from the very beginning. So let’s get started.
The simplest way to dip your toe into urban gardening is a bit of soil, a pot, and a seedling. My gardening journey began back in 2010 when I grew massive basil plants with my brother. We didn’t have much space at the time but were still able to grow enough basil to have pesto for an entire summer… and then some.
The world of container gardening can be confusing, though. First of all, what type of container is best? Plastic planters, terra-cotta pots, glass? Each type of container has its own benefits, but the best containers have the right blend of these three qualities:
Volume—They’re the right size for the plants you’re growing.
Material—They’re made out of the right material for your individual needs.
Drainage—They let water drain out, reducing the risk of root rot.
Raised Bed Gardening
Raised beds are one of the most popular urban gardening methods, understandably so. There are a million and one good reasons to grow in raised beds as opposed to in-ground, especially in urban environments. Plus, they look beautiful, no matter what style of raised bed you decide to build.
That said, many gardeners get overwhelmed when thinking about starting their own raised beds with questions such as:
What materials should I use?
How do I harvest successive crops, week after week?
How do I maintain my beds, year after year?
Answers to all of these questions, along with step-by-step plans, await you in this chapter.
For the space-challenged gardener, there’s no better method to learn than vertical gardening. Instead of treating the ground under your feet as the only growing space you have, consider the fact that there’s an entire world above the ground to take advantage of.
Besides the space savings, the advantages of vertical gardening are almost endless, including:
Less weeding and maintenance
Fewer diseases and pests due to better air circulation
Easy access is better for less wear and tear on your body
Perfect for growing vining-type plants in minimal space
If you think you can’t grow anything because you don’t have any space outdoors, then think again. Indoor edible gardening is not only possible, it’s simple. With a little creativity and an understanding of how to care for plants grown inside your home, you’ll have bountiful harvests even if you live in a tiny apartment.
In this chapter, you’ll learn:
How to audit your indoor space to maximize production
Simple ways to grow herbs indoors
A complete guide to growing nutrient-rich microgreens on autopilot
Balconies and Rooftops
My first gardens ever were in townhouses and apartments, so don’t think you can’t grow simply because of your living situation. Use your balconies, railings, and rooftops creatively, and you’ll be astonished at the amount you can grow in such a small space.
In this chapter, you’ll learn how to:
Make sure your balcony or rooftop is safe to grow on
Deal with the unique challenges of growing in these spaces
Lay out your garden to maximize harvests
Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants using only water, nutrients, and a growing medium. The word “hydroponics” comes from the root words hydro, meaning water, and ponos, meaning labor. To put it bluntly, hydroponics is a method of growing where the water does all of the work.
Sounds high tech and futuristic, right? You might be surprised to learn that the earliest examples of hydroponics date back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Floating Gardens of China. Humans have used these techniques for thousands of years.
No matter how experienced you are with plants, you’re going to run into some issues throughout your growing journey. Whether it’s a pest infestation, disease, or a simple watering issue, this chapter is designed to cover the most common growing problems and their solutions.
In this chapter, you’ll learn how to:
Organically combat the most common bugs
Deal with pesky animals munching on your crops
Prevent and control the six most common plant diseases