- CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Lynn Vdbr
- CC0 Public Domain & Unsplash – Bonnie Kettle
- © MIXC
- CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash – Stephanie Harvey
- CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash – Mika Baumeister
- © Rural Sprout
- © Maui Mike's; CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash – Zoe Schaeffer
- Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Printeboeck
Urban gardening is a fun, easy, and sustainable way of turning even the smallest outdoor area – a balcony, rooftop, or shared space – into a peaceful and practical little green oasis. You don’t need a lot to get started on your urban gardening project. Here are six great tips and tricks for a unique and creative urban vegetable garden.
First Steps for Urban Gardening in Small Spaces: Herb Shelves and Stacks
A quick and easy way to get started on your urban vegetable garden is with a few stacks or shelves of herbs. They’re usually pretty uncomplicated to look after, and you can buy lots of herbs ready-grown from your local organic grocery. To get started, check out our guides on growing your own kitchen herb garden!
A good way to save space is to think vertically. One practical and sustainable idea is simply to re-use things you might already have – like an old set of shelves. Herbs don’t need much space, so you might not have to invest much time or money to get going on this urban gardening project!
Urban Gardening Tips No. 2: Using Space Smartly and Effectively
One thing every urban gardener has to consider is how to make the best use not just of their space, but their access to sunlight. A mobile raised bed (like this one from MIXC, available on Amazon**) is one smart way of doing this.
Small city gardens are unlikely to be drenched in sunlight all day, but this way you can adjust your urban vegetable garden to the changing seasons. It also allows you to be more flexible with your space. Need more room for entertaining guests – or the next gardening project? Just move the veggies out of the way!
Urban Gardening Tips No. 3: Hanging Baskets, Pots, and More
If you have the opportunity to hang things in your urban garden – perhaps from the balcony above – then you can use the entire height available to you. One other bonus is that the plants won’t steal each other’s light, although you’ll have to take care when watering that the lowest baskets don’t get too wet.
Here at Utopia, we have a wealth of ideas for indoor hanging plants, many of which can also thrive in an outdoor space.
Urban Gardening Tips No. 4: Build a Vertical Urban Vegetable Garden
Another smart and sustainable way to use the vertical space in your little urban garden is to simply upcycle a wooden shipping pallet. They’re super sturdy, rustic-chic, and cheap – or you may even find one for free at your local supermarket or DIY store. Their large capacity makes them good for growing everything from flowers to vegetables.
The excellent blog Off Grid World has loads of practical tips for a greener, more simple life. Their guide to making beautiful and practical vertical gardens is clear and easy to follow.
Urban Gardening Tips No. 5: Upside-Down Tomatoes
Yes, you read that right! You can make the very best of the limited space in your urban vegetable garden by planting your pots from above and below. Tomatoes are particularly well-suited to this approach because gravity does away with the need for stakes when the fruits are ripe and heavy.
Supposedly, the tomatoes will even take on the flavor of the herbs you plant above them – a great way to make tomato and basil salad! The team at the fun homesteading site Rural Sprout has a good guide to planting upside-down (or “topsy-turvy”) tomatoes. You can also find out more about growing tomatoes from us at Utopia.
Urban Gardening Tips No. 6: Practical and Pretty Planting Bags
Another neat way of making your urban garden both easy to care for and easy on the eye is to use planting bags. You can use any fabric bag for this, so your garden can look as stylish or as homespun as you like.
There are also botanical benefits to using planting bags. They allow more air to reach the roots of the plants and offer improved drainage. The soft pots from Maui Mike’s (available on Amazon**) are even made from recycled bottles. Either way, you’re doing the environment a favor.
Urban Gardening: What to Read Next
Here are some more tips, ideas, and advice on how to care for the planet, your city, and your garden – whatever its size!
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