At least once in a lifetime every nature-lover wishes to be a farmer. Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege of filling a 4 gallon watering can and strolling down the rows of radishes and onions to see how the tomatoes are hanging.
For us city-dwellers, it is in small and unexpected places that we need to find our patch of land and celebrate things that grow.
With knowledgeable planting and careful selection, even windowsills and balconies turn into gorgeous beds with delicious organic vegetables.
WHAT TO GROW?
Some vegetables fit well into small places, while some varieties are especially made for growing in pots and small areas. Legumes, like peas and beans, are ideal for small gardens because they climb and a single stalk can yield scores of tasty pods. Aside from being a source of fresh, organic food, climbing species also look attractive on walls and trellises.
It’s a great idea to choose those vegetables that are less affordable and aren’t always freshly available.
Squash, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, celery and potatoes are delicious, but they take a little more space. Root vegetables like carrots and leeks atake a lot to grow and once they are pulled out, they are gone.
HOW TO GROW GARDEN WINDOWS
One of the suitable places for a small garden is a sunbathed windowsill. You will need a set of pots or window boxes at least 15 cm across. In small spaces less is often more, as plants will grow weak over time if they are too crowded.
Windowsill pots are ideal for carrots and beans, as well as salad leaves. As they grow, beans will need something to climb up and might reach up to 1.8 m in height. Fixing a cane or a few strings will help them grow in a desired direction.
Pot gardens need special container compost which has better water retention and is also enriched with nutrients that plants would normally take from soil. Water drainage can be a problem in planting pots, so you need to cover the bottom of the pot with a layer of pebbles or shards of broken crockery. Cover it with a layer of compost and press it lightly.
Water is always a problem in windowsill gardens. Pots and window boxes dry quickly, and rain often can’t reach them if they are sheltered under an overhanging roof. The key is to water the plants often but sparingly.
GROWING GARDENS ON YOUR BALCONY
5 Hours Of Sun
No matter which floor from the ground you live on, your balcony can still become a vegetable oasis. As with windowsill gardens, your balcony needs to have at least 5 sunny hours per day during summer.
When you have more space at your disposal, you can experiment with plants that need more space than windows can provide, such as zucchinis. Here you can make a more elaborate climbing structure, such as this lovely pole bean teepee.
Vegetables grown in pots need extra feed, as they will quickly use up the nutrients in their compost. A quality liquid feed needs to be added at least once every two weeks.
Climbing vegetables, like beans and zucchinis, have lovely flowers, so make sure that you grow them where they can be seen. Apart from looking nice, French marigolds are useful as they repel pests. You can even turn the tables and plant parsley or salad leaves along the border of your flower pots.
Why not even make a dazzling combination of veggies and flowers in the same pot?
GROWING IN THE CITY | FUTURE SOLUTIONS
Providing a steady supply of fresh, organic vegetables for urban areas has always been challenging. While ambitious vertical garden residential projects are still largely confined to architects’ computers, some more industrious designers have come up with more palpable solutions on how to bring healthy food closer to city consumers. One of those projects is based on a shipping container.
Retired cargo containers are perfect for indoor farms for many reasons. They are built as self-supporting units, to endure hardships of ocean voyages, and while on land, they are virtually indestructible. In addition to being easy to insulate, as mobile farms, containers can be modified to run on solar power.
This self-contained indoor farm is ideal for year-round growth and cold climates. A brainchild of Williamson Greenhouses, the CropBox provides 2800 plant spots arranged over 320 square feet. It is equipped with grow lights, planting racks, an HVAC system, as well as a water reservoir, a pump and an automated system for monitoring and control. A total of 18 sensors measure every possible environmental condition inside the farm, while the computer system that runs the unit can be accessed via a smartphone.
Both small windowsill gardens and hi-tech solutions, self-contained urban farms have something in common. They are the result of our environmental thinking and the desire to grow local, organic food closer to where we live.
We can only hope that projects like these, big or small, will motivate more people to think creatively and bring us in closer connection to our planet no matter where we live.
By promoting home-grown vegetables, people in urban areas may become less dependent on supermarket food, which is grown industrially on a large scale with only profit in mind.
We hope to have given you some greenspiration. No space is too small for homegrown veggies! What vegetables would you love to grow? Or do you have any urban farming tips for our tribe? Please let us know in the comments below. We love to hear from you.
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