In today’s rapidly expanding modern world, consuming fresh produce that comes straight from the farm might be considered a luxury. To solve that problem, many farmers, enthusiasts, or even a mere person with a green thumb can start urban gardening.
In this article, we will talk about the kind of urban gardening on a smaller scale. One that you could do on your own while living in a confined space within the city.
What is Urban Gardening?
Urban gardening is ordinary gardening with a few extra steps. Traditional gardening involves a plot of land dedicated wholly or partially to grow and cultivate plants and trees for the table or simply for its beauty.
Meanwhile, Urban Gardening is just the same except that you don’t have the luxury of space. However, it has proven to be a feasible alternative. It successfully changes the view that growing plants, especially food crops, is only possible in rural areas. Many solutions are available, such as vertical gardening, hydro phonics, balcony, roof top, potted, upcycled containers and raised bed. Most of these cost little to no money to start.
10 Reasons to Start Your Own DIY Urban Gardening
Here, we discuss 10 good reasons tot start your own DIY urban gardening.
1. Easier Access to Fresher Food
This is one of the best and most important reasons to start your urban garden. Creating your urban garden allows you to munch on fresher foods. Sure, the fruits and vegetables you get off the shelves of supermarkets might appear fresh and delicious, but who knows how many days have passed after it was harvested. To protect them from bruising and oxidation, supermarkets typically put them in protective packaging filled with carbon dioxide.
Nothing is fresher when you can get it straight from where it grows. Just imagine waking up in the morning and cooking an omelet using the ingredients you just picked from your own garden. It doesn’t get any fresher than that.
That said, one can quickly see how lucky those families have relatives in the farming industry, knowing how our food supply system works. From time to time, they’ll get the chance to visit the farm and procure fresh produce. But with urban gardening, you can also do so but in a much-condensed space.
2. Healthier Diet
Truthfully, eating fresher food correlates to having a healthier diet. It is just a proven fact. Eating fresher food means that nutrients and minerals aren’t lost or diminished in quality usually associated with the food being transferred from the farm to the supermarket.
What’s more? Why would you want to eat leisurely and readily available processed food when you’ve got something you grow on your own, with natural or organic feed and without using harmful pesticides.
3. More Sustainable Way of Getting Food
When talking about sustainability, one should never forget the benefits that urban gardening brings to the table. Mass-producing food using conventional farming methods takes a considerable toll on the planet. Aside from the potential and purposive destruction of forests for more farming space, just think about the fuel that all vehicles consume just for the food to reach your table.
Urban gardening will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the current food system by cutting down on fossil fuel consumption. The effects may be minimal if you only do it yourself. Still, the thing is, you’ll be joining thousands more that already began the practice themselves. Over time, you will be saving even more fuel as you become more self sustainable.
4. Greener Towns and Cities
With urbanization, towns and cities are actually compelled to cut down trees, especially for road expansions. This causes large tracts of land formerly covered by trees, shrubs and bushes to give way to infrastructural enhancements and developments.
This means that the Earth needs every hand on deck to compensate for the loss. Do your bit for the environment no matter how small they are. Make the most of your small garden or plot. While you can donate your money towards tree planting, what you do in you backyard, balcony or rooftop makes it real and contributes to the environment just the same, in your very own way.
5. Learning a Unique Skill
Urban gardening doesn’t come short of fun and excitement. Even if it doesn’t sound like one given that people normally associate gardening with work but urban gardening is more manageable given its scale. It does’t take up a lot of your time and you should consider it is a hobby, one that you will learn and enjoy doing at the same time, not a chore.
Skills that you will learn includes being receptive to your crops’ developments and then apply proper techniques to ensure that they can grow healthy. This is only the beginning, but as you advance further, you’ll begin to realize that there is more to it than just putting seedlings into the ground.
While you need to be committed or risk losing everything without even having to taste the fruits of your labour, one thing is certain, there is plenty to learn about gardening. Plan and research into the type of plants you wish to have in your urban garden and how to care for them before you jump in.
6. Chance to Become more Resourceful
The thing with urban gardening is that you have to be quite resourceful to make it work. You already have limited space to begin with, so you have to find ways to sustain your growing garden as time passes.
Urban gardening usually has pots in exchange for plots of land. As you go along, you’ll find that the pots won’t be enough, and you actually need something bigger or more plentiful. Spending money on additional pots sounds counterintuitive to the purpose of saving money by gardening. So, what would you do? Just collect all those old plastic bottles, discarded buckets, and other similar containers lying around and what you’ll have is a limitless number of possible planters!
If lack of space is a problem, going vertical is one option but remember to think about watering and support you will need. Perhaps a frame to hold your vertical garden that comes with custom watering system.
We designed and built a vertical planter out of rain gutters mounted on a frame that goes over the balcony railing. This not only allowed the plants to get enough sun light but made watering easier too as water cascades down from the top to bottom levels.
7. Safer Food
This is also another vital thing to consider when starting an urban garden. As discussed previously, food displayed in the “fresh” section of the supermarket may not be fresh at all. Most are often showered with harmful chemicals, like pesticides and fertilizers.
But, if you grow your own food, you can skip the chemicals and use natural pesticides or netting instead to keep the fruits, vegetables and herbs safe for consumption. Most likely, you can keep things organic too and only rely on natural means in order to boost your plants’ growth.
With the pandemic afflicting almost anyone and everywhere, even going to the supermarket has its own risk that one shouldn’t ignore. By growing your own food, you can reduce the number of times you go grocery shopping and with that the likely hood of you catching anything you don’t want.
8. Joining and Building a Community
Another thing to remember: you’ll never be alone once you start your own urban garden. You’ll soon find yourself asking questions or looking for advice on how to improve your garden. Once this happens, you’ll be pulled into the community of gardeners who share the same goals as you do and are more than happy to help each other out with ideas and advice.
Once you are up and running, your neighbours and family will soon take notice and might become interested in urban gardening themselves. When this happens, you are sure to have more things to discuss with them, leading to the creation of your own little community.
9. Saves a little bit of Money
Ah, yes, the money-saving notion of urban gardening. It has always been the aim that urban gardening will save a bit more of your money when you go grocery shopping. Instead of spending a few extra bucks on ingredients, you just have to step out and pick them yourself from your garden.
Fewer visits to the shop also saves time and fuel. In the long term, it will even help save the environment by reducing emissions.
10. Just for the Fun of it
Are you bored with absolutely nothing else to do? Instead of vegetating in front of the TV, urban gardening is definitely a productive pastime that you will be glad you picked. The result is not only a beautiful garden but a leisure activity that will take your mind off the stresses from work, everyday life, and the pandemic.
The joy of seeing your plants grow is already rewarding by itself. And, it gets even more rewarding when you can reap their bounty when they are ready for harvest.
Recommended Plants to Start your Urban Gardening Journey
Now that you know the advantages of starting your own urban garden, you might be wondering what plants or vegetables can you grow in such conditions. Generally, you want to start with vegetables that are easy to grow and maintain and don’t take too much space.
Here are a few examples:
- Salad Greens. Salad greens, especially microgreens don’t take up much space. You can even grow them on a tray just beside your windowsill!
- Herbs. Herbs can be grown indoor, on the window sill or in a hydroponic planter. They are easy to grow and you can even have different herbs in the same planter to create your own herb garden.
- Peppers. Peppers only need warm weather and full sun, you won’t have any reason not to plant this one.
- Beans. If you have little more room to spare, you can choose to plant Pole Beans and put up a trellis so it can grow magnificently.
- Tomatoes. Choose the smaller varieties of tomatoes, like Tiny Tim, and you will soon have a nice addition to your salad.
- Peas. Peas are fast growers and can easily thrive in a small space.
- Green Onions (scallions). Green onions grow vertically and can be planted on old, discarded bottles.
Urban gardening is a worthwhile and fun activity to do safely, especially during the pandemic. However, once you get into it, it is likely to be turned into a lifelong activity. These are just a few reasons to start, and you can definitely come up with a cause of your own just so you can try it out. It will not only create a better, greener atmosphere in and around your home, but it can also set you up for food security should if you do it consistently.
Article by Kurt Comendador