Urban Gardening for the City Crowd
City living offers a number of benefits such as cultural activities like plays and concerts, as well as a greater number of educational resources and career opportunities. However, one of the most common complaints of city dwellers is that they often feel cut off from nature. The desire to reconnect with nature and the earth is one of the reasons for the increasing popularity of urban gardening.
Those who live in apartments don’t have to miss out on feeling the soil between their fingers or the first sight of new shoots sprouting from it. Sharing fresh vegetables is also a great way to increase the sense of community between neighbors. No matter how limited the space, it’s possible to create an herb, flower or vegetable garden and enjoy the health benefits of gardening as well as adding some beauty, flavor and nutrition to your life.
Vertical gardening, in which plants are layered in containers on a wall or a structure against a wall, is becoming increasingly popular. Many businesses are beginning to make full use of their walls to plant beautiful flower arrangements that serve the dual purpose of attracting new customers. Restaurants are also utilizing this method to grow their own fresh herbs.
Designing a vertical garden can be as simple as buying a flower box or as complex as covering the entire side of a building. Experienced gardeners recommend considering how much shade and light a location offers before beginning. Renters might also want to consider constructing something portable rather than permanent, utilizing small pots, or both. Using lightweight materials also has the benefit of allowing you to move the plants for optimum light and shade during different times of day.
Proper mulching is just as important in vertical gardening as other types, if not more so, since you, rather than the earth, must provide all the soil nutrients. Mulching is also a great way to control the growth of weeds as well as provide stable soil temperature. Soil temperature can be affected according to different types of mulching materials, some of which cool the soil, while others heat it. Extra mulch can also help prevent moisture loss and help plants stay sufficiently hydrated. The recommended depth for mulch is 3-5 cm for most potted plants.
Urban gardeners have come up with as many creative ways of watering their vertical gardens as designing them. One example is self-watering system that utilizes rainwater, a car battery, a solar panel and a timer. Others, rather than designing their own, purchase ready made vertical garden kits for both indoor and outdoor plants and automatic watering systems.
Urban Gardening: What to Grow
Flowers that do very well with this method of gardening include geraniums, begonias, hoyas, the Japanese iris and a lovely red bloom called “the lipstick plant,” which actually blooms best when kept root-bound to a degree. Petunias are also a popular choice. For variety, succulents and sword ferns are also ideal. Many people enjoy the soft, lush look of the limelight bower wattle as well, which also grows well in pots.
Vegetables well suited for vertical gardening include tomatoes, broccoli, spinach and kale. Pole beans and peas are also well suited for vertical gardening and actually produce more than other varieties and can be harvested for several months. Cucumbers and lettuce can also be grown vertically. Heavier vegetables may require additional support as they ripen.
There are resources available for whatever level of gardening you prefer. Some may not enjoy gardening but want to beautify their surroundings or enjoy the incomparable taste and nutrition of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. For those that want those benefits without having to design a system, there are prefabricated vertical garden structures that can grow up to 20 different plants in a single unit.
The United Nations predicts that the global population by 2050 will swell to 9.6 billion people, and that 86% of them will live in cities. Urban gardening provides access to fresh and nutritious food all year. Vertical farming on a large scale is proving beneficial by using less water, less space and fewer chemicals, all of which leaves a smaller carbon footprint on an increasingly fragile environment. Today’s creative urban farmers are helping to ensure our tomorrow.
About Philip Piletic
Philip is originally from Europe, and now lives and works in Brisbane, Australia. He has a strong interest in ecology, “green” practices and generally living a sustainable and responsible lifestyle. He enjoys sharing his experience with others by contributing to health and wellness blogs around the Internet and helping others lead more healthier lives.
The views and opinions of guest authors do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Full Circle.