The first thing that comes into people's minds whenever they hear the words "urban" and "gardening" would be a garden in the middle of an urban city. Seven times out of ten, would they think that having a decorated yard in such a busy area would be a ludicrous idea. Still, urban gardening is already in bloom as one of the most popular quarantining trends for the year 2021, and for many good reasons that range from decoration to food security and so much more.
Urban gardening is not exactly a new concept, as it dates back to as early as Ancient Egypt when people utilized disposed materials in helping to feed urban farming that existed in its time. It even became a response to food shortages during crises such as wars—for example, fifty hectares of land were tilled for food throughout the Netherlands in 1942. The 'Hunger Winter' also affected the Dutch, or 'Mad Tuesday' in September 1944 when starving inhabitants dug up potatoes despite the lack of permission from the city itself. A more notable (and quite infamous) example would be the Victory Gardens sprouting around the United States during the World Wars due to food pressures. Thanks to these, the impact of urban gardening has been hailed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as an industry that produces food and fuel in response to customers' demand within a particular area, using methods that help in yielding a diversity of crops and livestock.
By definition, urban gardening cultivates, processes, and distributes food and fuel while in or around a metropolitan area. With all the rapid growth of estates and urban phenomena happening in the city, it is no wonder that some people find solace in urban gardening. It does not matter whether you live in an expensive condominium, a cramped apartment, or even a college dorm with barely any ventilation. Having at least one small potted plant by your windowsill can help mitigate air pollution in heavily-populated areas with even just an ounce of fresher, cooler air. And with urban gardening making a resurgence, the green thumb takes root in city life as plant enthusiasts, and horticulturists find new and inventive ways to spicing up your space and contribute to the increase of biodiversity.
The first step you can learn in planning your urban garden is to save space. Since the soil quality in the city is not exactly an ideal place to grow your favorite flowering plants, much fewer trees, urban gardening is usually done in communal spaces such as rooftops or even balconies and window sills. From the lush and romantic balcony gardens to chic-looking hanging baskets, you can make your little greenhouse ecosystem in buckets, raised beds, glass jars, or anything that can accommodate favorable gardening conditions. If you are adamant about having your harvest, the rooftop (with permission from your neighbors) is the perfect place for you and your vegetation as it allows for more space and sunlight. And from that point onward, it is up to you how you would like to care for your plants.
Like all the other gardening methods, you only require three essential components to maintain your garden: sunlight, soil, and water. As always, plants require six to eight hours of daylight, so it would be best to find a place where it is accessible. You must also consider the root growth, so you may need at least one foot of soil for deep-rooted plants, while the shallow-rooted ones only require at least six inches. Soil content is just as crucial, so instead of freshly-dug earth from the ground, it would be best to work with potting soil as it carries less weight and allows for even distribution and drainage of water. And last but not least, constantly—and we mean always water your garden, preferably at moderate levels.
If you still have time to be fancy with your garden, here are some ideas you can take note of while you still have the time and resources. One great way of managing both your time and creativity is to build for yourself a mini-conservatory where you can keep your garden thriving year-round—imagine a real-life greenhouse. Still, only the size of a gingerbread mansion filled to the brim with flora and tired of seeing the same worn rain gutters? You can always utilize them as spaces for your portable potted plants. If you want a relaxed feel without accidentally tripping or shoving over your plants, you can go for hanging plants from ceiling totes or a pallet wall or vertical gardening. For those of you who envision a trim and tasteful design such as the lush greenery on the windowsills of Parisian Haussman apartments, then window boxes are just right for you—taking the green thumb to the next level? Recycled wooden crates are sure to bring out the minimalist aesthetic for all your gardening needs. For those who are more on the practical side, you can grow your potted vegetables with leftover food scraps or clippings—have some faith in it, as this would reduce your grocery bill. Or, if you are by chance not the physically active or time-managing kind, a good solution would be self-watering plants with the use of planters that keep water at the roots in a separate container for plants to draw up water from the wick. The possibilities for your urban garden are endless!
Urban gardening has its benefits, too—and there are a lot of them. For instance, it helps reduce carbon emissions in the transportation of fruits and vegetables from other countries. It also provides more access to fresher and more affordable foods; this accessibility, however, is still in its "seedling" state, though it has some progress. Furthermore, it can also benefit animals as urban gardens help in improving the air quality and the ecosystem from within the area. By the end of the day, it all depends on how you would like to manage your time in the city, and urban gardening is one of the many options you can choose.
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