Loving the city life but longing for some country living? If you have a big green thumb but a small back yard, then rest assured that you can still get your hands dirty amongst the suburbs.
Urban gardening has become increasingly popular as cities fill with garden savvy dwellers with limited space or terrain to work with. Not only does growing plants and produce offer solace and greenery amongst the concrete jungle, it also has a positive impact on the environment and provides instant access to fresh produce too.
This has seen a range of cultivating techniques and sustainability solutions emerge on both an individual and community level, as people work together to make cities greener and the people within them more conscious of what they can do.
So, where to begin? Whilst growing plants can sometimes feel overwhelming, remember that they only really need three basic requirements; light, soil and water.
Whether you have a rooftop garden or small window ledge to play with, you can make use of the space available to you with a few easy tips.
No yard? No problem! Arrange pots of different shapes, sizes and varieties around your patio, on window ledges or over balconies. As long as your containers allow adequate growing room and drainage, you can grow almost anything from lettuce to tomatoes, cucumbers to capsicums, and even potatoes, in a relatively small space.
Short on pots, but have old empty jars, bottles or buckets knocking around? Then you’re already good to go! You can even fill old dresser draws or empty crates with soil for a rustic feel.
Don’t be put off by a crowded plant collection; clustering containers together can actually raise humidity levels, helping to keep plants more productive. Discover which produce are good ‘companions’, like tomatoes and basil, and grow them together to produce a better yield too.
Don’t have the space to spread out? Then spread up! Make use of wall space with a trellis or ‘green wall’, and watch vines and greenery entwine your very own lush lattice.
Assembling shelves or stacking wooden crates in a pyramid formation is another great way to make use of upwards space. If you don’t have the materials or DIY skills to fashion your own shelves, then an old ladder or tilted bookcase is equally as practical. Just be sure that your garden is protected from the wind or that your chosen structure and pots are secure!
Looking for some indoor inspo? An empty shoe organiser provides perfect-size pockets for growing herbs and can be hung over the backs of doors too.
Make use of over-head space and hang your plants and produce in baskets or inside of pots held in place with rope. If you’d prefer to save money on pre-made hanging containers, then empty jars and bottles can look very effective, and can be easily hung from a clothes line.
An indoor hanging herb garden also helps make use of space in smaller kitchens – assemble a wooden rod and curtain rings above your kitchen window for easy access during cooking!
Have access to a roof garden? Why not band together with your fellow occupants and create your own flower beds, veggie patch or herb garden?
If you don’t have access to a larger space (or enthusiastic gardeners) within your own building, then take advantage of community gardens and shared allotments run by gardening groups instead. Not only can you share the responsibility and reap the rewards from a combined effort, but you may learn some interesting tips from other seasoned gardeners too.
Although it may take some trial and error (and a few broken pots) to see your urban garden flourish fully, be sure to stick with your green project! As long as your plants and produce have access to sufficient sunlight, are well watered and have enough space and soil to grow, then you should see your urban jungle thriving in no time!
Roisin is a regular contributor to Let’s Go Vegan Australia.