An urban vegetable garden is a beautiful solution to the trickiest of growing situations. Whether you’re in a five-floor walkup with rooftop access or have only a window sill, growing your own produce is still an option. Regardless of how small your small space is, an urban vegetable garden can thrive and produce heaping harvests.
Urban gardening actually began during World War II. At the time, these “victory gardens” ended up providing 40% of the food consumed in the cities.
All this to say you can get big harvests from urban gardens.
If you’re willing to eat seasonally, you can even produce most of your vegetable and herb needs from your balcony.
Here’s our complete guide to urban vegetable gardening — everything you need to know to grow successfully.
Why Urban Vegetable Garden?
Growing in a container means that, no matter how poor your terrain is, you can still have to success.
Plus, container gardens are often mobile, meaning you can navigate poor climate as well.
Raining too hard? Bring it in.
Poor access to sunlight? Move your garden to follow the sun!
Plus, no one should have to miss out on growing. No matter where you’re living, there’s always an option to create a bountiful garden — whether that’s a small herb garden on your window sill, a vertical garden on your balcony, or giant planters on your rooftop.
Lastly, urban vegetable gardens are easily accessible and all-inclusive. They’re ideal for people growing with disabilities, young kids, or the elderly.
What You’ll Need
- a space to grow
- seeds and/or seedlings
- organic fertilizer (not synthetic fertilizers)
- organic compost
- organic pesticides
Where to Grow
The first thing to do when beginning a vegetable container garden is to determine the location. Above all, you need to find a space that gets good access to
Most vegetables require about 6 hours of sunlight a day.
Herbs and lettuce varieties can get away with a bit less; tomatoes, peppers, and beans require more.
Track a specific location throughout the day as the sun moves, and try to determine what the plant’s experience would be growing in that location. Balconies, rooftops, windowsills, and patios are all very good options for containers.
In a tricky situation, a good option is to move your garden to follow the sun. Put your container on casters or caddies and just remember to pay attention!
Another thing to consider is wind.
Your location should be a protected area where your garden won’t be battered and dried out — especially if you’re growing in the fall.
Use the shelter of your building or arrange your pots so that larger, more sturdy plants shield smaller ones.
In fact, if you have multiple container gardens, clustering your gardens is a good idea. This will create a small greenhouse effect, raising humidity levels and therefore increasing plant productivity.
What to Grow
In reality, almost anything can grow in a container garden. Grow a vegetable that suits your tastes, your climate, and your location.
Herbs are wonderful choices for indoor growing, lettuce is great for shady, cooler areas, and peppers are perfect for hot patio summers. Do some research and come back with an option that makes you happy!
Preparing the Soil
Choosing the right soil is one of the most important steps in the growing process. The soil is your plant’s home and also its access to food and water.
We suggest relying on the Gardenuity Garden Kits, which provide soil, optimized and customized to your specific seeds.
Alternatively, you can purchase soilless potting mixes from the store. Be sure it retains moisture and resists compaction, but is always well-draining.
Mix with organic matter to enrich the potting mix.
Choosing a Container
Generally speaking, a larger container is better. Small containers tend to dry out more quickly and need more water. The more soil, the more moisture retained, and the less you need to water.
The depth of the container is especially important. It’s important to allow enough space for the roots to grow as deep as they need. This will ensure there’s a proper root system to allow for healthy growth and production.
Grow bags are our favorite option. Well draining, breathable, and easily movable, they’re ideal candidates for containers.
Don’t forget that, unlike plots out in a backyard, container gardens become part of your house decor!
When choosing a container, look for what will add to your home. Use your urban vegetable garden as a chance to add style and life to your home.
When to Water
Look on your seed packet and/or online to discover your specific plant variety’s preference for water. Regardless, vegetables require a consistent supply of water.
Inconsistency in watering can cause blossom drop, poor root development, rot, and leaf curling.
As a general rule, check the soil with your thumb to test whether water is needed or not. Be wary of overwatering — it’s way more common that plants die from drowning than under watering!
Feeding your Plant
In an urban vegetable garden, fertilizing is extra important because the soil in your container lacks any natural nutrients. Containers also require more water than a plot, meaning that nutrients are washed out of the soil regularly.
Ensure you include organic compost in your soil and fertilize regularly with organic fertilizer to get the most out of your garden.
If you’re growing indoors, you won’t have any problem with pests. In reality, if you grow in the right place with the right plant and the right care regime, pests are rarely a problem.
However, if you do encounter pests, resort to organic pesticides. Avoid all un-organic options; they can be toxic for you and your plant.
Need extra help?
If you love growing but are not sure you can commit to being a full-time plant parent, ask for help!
Community gardens are popular in urban areas, and there’s no reason you can’t begin your own — especially if you share a rooftop or patio with neighbors.
Just be sure to divvy out responsibilities clearly, so your plant doesn’t get neglected.
For extra pro tips, sign up for Gardenuity’s grow pro service to get consistent weather alerts, expert advice, and more.