Starting an Urban Garden: The Basics
So you want to get started with an urban garden but you don’t know where to begin? Purchasing seeds, setting up a worm composter, and buying self-watering planters may all well be in your future, but don’t let your lack of experience intimidate you – there are a few basics that you need to know first. Doing a bit of research beforehand can ensure that you have a positive experience with your first foray into growing your own food.
Survey your Space
Be realistic about how much space you have. A sunny windowsill can support a nice herb garden, but won’t be appropriate for tomatoes or squash. A small Juliette balcony on a sunny side of the building could support a few tomato plants, and a larger balcony is the perfect spot for bigger vegetables like zucchini that do well in planters. Knowing how much space you have will help you determine what supplies you need.
Plan your Bounty
Based on how much space you have, determine what you want to grow. Basil, cilantro, and chives will all do well in a sunny window garden. Several varieties of tomatoes, such as Patio Princess, will take well to the conditions of smaller pots. Many other vegetables – everything from peppers to zucchini, to eggplant – will grow well in 18-gallon self-watering planters or grow-boxes. There are many helpful websites that can help you plan your container garden, such as this PDF, from Texas A&M.
Buy your Seeds
There are many places to buy seeds – if you want organic seeds, Botanical Interests and Johnny’s Seeds are two of the most reliable, and I’ve often ordered my seeds from Burpee, one of the oldest companies around. In my family, it was always a special occasion when the glossy, colorful Burpee catalog arrived – it was the signal of spring! Have fun with this. Try some new varieties, and be adventurous. Get some plants that will yield early and often, like spinach or lettuce, and those that offer delayed gratification, like tomatoes.Continued on the next page