Urban Gardening

Cultivate the City

Home owners cultivate food for their family, or processes and distributes surplus food to their neighbors or food banks. Growing their own fruit, vegetables and herbs is an increasingly popular activity for city dwellers as well. These gardens give more control over their sources of food and how it is handled. They are less dependent on packaged and processed food from grocery stores.

The new revolution of organic, fresh food on a larger scale has evolved in the term Urban Homesteading/Farms. Some raise chickens for meat or fresh eggs and to control insect problems, bees for honey and pollinating crops, and small livestock in their yards. Whether you live in a subdivision or not, be sure to check with your local extension service or government agency, especially if you plan to raise chickens, bees or livestock along with gardening.

Lawns are being turned into gardens, eliminating mowing, watering, harmful pesticides and excessive fertilizing. Organic compost, fertilizers and pesticides are gaining interest at nurseries and big box stores, along with the use of collected rain or gray water, and taking advantage of solar and wind energy.

Apartment and condo residents, with no yard to garden in, have turned to Balcony Gardening, using everything from antique water tubs to modern colorful planters. Patio tomatoes are easy to grow in containers. A small trellis could support vines of beans, cucumbers and melons for example. Clean five gallon buckets can be purchased from Home Depot or Lowes and can be a great place to introduce a child to gardening such as starting a lasagna or spaghetti garden. Be sure to drill a few holes in the bottom of the bucket for drainage before filling it with potting or garden soil.

Rooftop Gardening on apartments or condos with a flat roof can be an oasis with small fruit trees and berry bushes where you can grow vegetables, herbs and some flowers while raising bees for honey as well as pollinating plants and trees. An outdoor Vertical Wall of succulents and small plants are easy to maintain and adds drama to a rooftop or a patio. Check the internet for photographs and ideas.

Small Backyard Gardens using raised beds or square foot gardening is a great way to meet your neighbors and share your excess vegetables or herbs and maybe to start a new garden club. Many different kinds of vegetables can be grown in just one raised bed using the square foot method. An elevated gardening bed on wheels can be on a patio and moved with the sun. They can be most helpful for our disabled seniors to grow their favorite vegetables or flowers with no bending. The garden brings beauty, wildlife and serenity to their urban lifestyle.

Resources

Books:

  • All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition by Mel Bartholonew
  • Beginners Backyard Chickens by Jim Filpatrick
  • Keeping Chickens by Abigail R. Gehring
  • The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell
  • The Urban Farm Handbook: City Slickers by Annette Cottrell
  • Urban Gardening by Will Cook
  • Vertical Gardening: The Beginner’s Guide by Olivia Abby

For more information, contact:
Sandra Ford, Chairman: Urban Gardening