Are you wondering how to start an Urban Garden?
Gardening can mean many things to different people. To some, an urban garden contains beautiful flowers.
Others grow herbs, food… even cacti can make up an urban garden.
However, all of them have to start somewhere.
Table of Contents
How to Start An Urban Garden
When one thinks about a garden, space is often a consideration. However, a small space doesn’t equate to no ability to have a garden.
It just requires thinking outside of the box, or rather in something similar.
No matter what size area is available, all you need to know is how to start an urban garden.
What is an Urban Garden?
The best definition of an urban garden is growing plants in the city.
However, frequently there is much more to it than that. When deciding how to start an urban garden, let’s go back to space.
- Where are you going to put the plants you need?
- Do you have a balcony or a sunny window?
- Is there a plot or two of grass or a patio available?
Some cities have plenty of single-family homes with at least some ground. While care has to be taken that it doesn’t violate in HOA rules, in-ground gardens can be planted.
There are a lot of considerations for this type of garden, including soil type and availability of water. It is also likely that special tools will be needed, including a garden claw, hoe, trowel and shovel.
hese pots can range from one cup to a tree planter. They can help with HOA rules in some areas because they aren’t within the ground.
They usually don’t have any issues with soil; they use potting soil from the nursery. However, planting something in a small pot could mean having to re-pot it later as it gets bigger. There is more of a chance for root bind in them.
These can be beautiful and/or practical. Flowers look nice in them, and vining vegetables will also do well in them.
However, there are several different types of hanging baskets. It is important to get one that will suit the plants that will go into the basket.
See this list of wall planters designed for smaller spaces to get an idea.
One of the best uses is iron mesh similar to fencing and an organic thatch to hold the potting soil and plants.
This allows the water to flow through the porous material and doesn’t promote root rot.
An integral part of any urban vegetable garden. These can be larger and are sometimes called raised bed planters or smaller.
They are usually rectangular. They are great for small shrubs, herbs like sage, and vegetables. Window box planters are used for smaller herbs and flowers.
How to Start An Urban Garden: The Steps
Like any project, there are a variety of steps that have to be taken to create an urban garden.
These steps don’t all require physical work; some of the most important will come before seed or seedling has been planted.
See the planning steps to through when setting up an urban garden.
Urban Garden Planning Phase 1
Research what will grow in your area. If what you want to grow is difficult, but you still want to grow it, research how to do that.
This is a lot easier with search engines. Farmers use to have to depend on the Farmer’s Almanac for this information.
Urban Garden Planning Phase 2
Now that you know what you can grow, decide what you want to grow. If you are new to gardening, websites like Burpee are very helpful. The site gives growing information and tips as well.
Urban Garden Planning Phase 3
The last major planning session; draw out what you intend to plant and wherein the garden (or in which containers) it’s going to grow.
For this, keep plant height in mind, tall plants like corn or hollyhocks should be closer to the back in order to allow the front plants access to sunlight and water.
If you have a sprinkler system, make sure the plants won’t block it from watering everything. It’s a lot easier to erase a line on a piece of paper than it is to replant a garden.
Preparing The Soil
My grandmother taught all of us the need for this from a very young age. She owned and operated a greenhouse.
Before the ground froze every fall, she moved a quantity of soil onto her concrete working area.
There she “made dirt.” This phrase didn’t seem odd to a small child, but it may seem odd to someone who hasn’t seen it.
Making dirt is a process of adding things to the soil to help promote plant growth. A few things might change, depending on what needs to be planted, but that is the ratio, not ingredients.
In clay soil, that would be soil, peat moss, and manure. If you’re just starting out see these gardening books for beginners for more useful step-by-step advice on soil preparation techniques.
Some plants can go directly into the ground. For them, just mix the ingredients in when plowing. Others need to be started in plant boxes in order to grow properly.
In cooler areas, this should be done indoors. This usually starts in February so that the plants are ready to go into the ground after all danger of frost is passed.
Planting Seeds in Ground
Growing up farming gives a lot of insight into urban gardens. However, changes have had to be made. One of them is a way of planting corn.
Corn on the farm was planted with three kernels in each “hill.” The saying is “one for the ground, two for the birds, and three for me.” Not every seed of any variety will be viable.
That’s “one for the ground.” Birds can and do eat seeds… even in the city. In order to have it grow, three went in.
In the city, planting corn is an iffy proposition. It needs a lot of other corn stalks around it in order to grow.
See these urban gardening books for more tips on growing in a city environment.
It’s best to plant it closer together and in single seeds. To conserve space, they can be planted two inches apart. If runner beans are going to be added, increase to five inches apart.
Mix the soil and put it into a container. Grandma’s were about two inches deep, which is all that’s needed for the first part. If the seeds are small, sprinkle them over the soil and water.
When the seedlings come up and have their first true leaves, separate them into rows in another box. When two inches tall they can go into individual containers.
Peat cups are ideal because they can just be planted into the ground.
But all I want is flowers: This works the same no matter the garden. Some flowers can be started directly in the ground, some need to be started indoors and early.
Watering, Weeding, etc.
Read the seed packet instructions for water guidelines. In temperate zones, enough rain tends to fall so that watering isn’t needed.
In drier climates, especially where it gets hot, you may need to water twice a day. When weeding, make sure to get the roots of the weed so it won’t grow back.
This could be an article all on its own, however, there are a few things to know. There are three types available; fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides.
If you are growing anything you want to eat, use only organic fertilizer, and skip both of the others. If you are growing flowers, make sure there are no nicotinamides in the chemical.
That kills off bees and they have enough problems.
Whether you want to cut flowers for the house or harvest a tomato, there are good times and bad times to do it.
Obviously picking under-ripe produce isn’t wise, most of it needs to continue growing.
However, keep in mind that even if all you want are flowers, some should be allowed to go to seed so you can plant them next year.
Starting An Urban Garden: Bottom Line
Having an urban garden is good for a lot of reasons. Gardening is good for both physical and mental therapy, the things that are grown provide a sense of satisfaction that is hard to beat and beauty is its own reward.
Having an urban garden that grows things to eat is good for the budget in the long run. It is also healthier than what is in most supermarkets.
In times of emergency, it can help provide a sense of security even if it isn’t enough to feed a family of four for very long.
It is also very amusing to listen to those who’ve never had truly fresh fruit or vegetable exclaim about how it tastes.
Flowers and other beautiful objects have subtle benefits for the human psyche.
Watching the bees, birds and other animals in the garden can also be soothing. Add a recirculating fountain and you have an oasis in an urban desert.
It is good for children to see how plants grow and how they are pollinated.
Many schools do this as a class project; think how much more they can learn if it is a family project that they can observe from soil preparation to the conclusion of the garden season.
There are so many reasons to start a garden and no matter what time of year it is, today is the best day to begin.