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Written by Renee Jofers
In times of crisis, urban gardening has become a beacon of hope for many city dwellers. The president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition stated that urban farming rose to popularity because food donations neither met the quantity nor the quality needed by New Yorkers. In fact, fashion designer Ron Finley lives in bustling Los Angeles, and is an urban gardening advocate who started his own urban garden after realizing the therapeutic and nutritional benefits of communities growing their own produce.
Now that more homeowners are getting into urban gardening, urban planners are supporting communities by developing sustainable plans that can help spur the development of more urban gardens. Community resources are being built across the country so that community members have access to bigger plots of land, soil, and other resources. This allows community members to have increased access to quality produce every day.
But if space is an issue for your community, don’t worry! You can plan a garden in different kinds of spaces by following these tips:
Look for the ideal growing area
If you want a bountiful supply of quality produce, you’ll need to give your plants everything that they require.
Fruits and vegetables thrive best in open spaces where they get at least six hours of sun per day. Ideally, plot your plants in eastern or southern areas, so that they can soak up the sunshine every day. On top of that, you’ll need to make sure that the plants are plotted in soil that’s at least two feet away from your house to avoid any pH changes caused by man-made structures.
Consider varied growing containers
It would be great to have a big space for an urban garden, but oftentimes urban gardeners need to get creative with their available space.
Those with yards can maximize their space by providing a trellis for climbing fruits and vegetables, like cucumbers, melons, and squash. Meanwhile, those in smaller spaces can opt to grow vegetables in containers that have adequate drainage and sizing. You can even make your own plant containers using plastic buckets or wood, as long as they have drainage for water and are at least 12 inches in width and height.
Prepare the garden soil
Not all substrates are created equal. If you're working on a larger plot, get rid of the weeds before loosening up the soil with a good dig. It’s also crucial to add in a bit of compost, vermicast, or chicken manure to ensure that the soil gets all the nutrients it needs.
But if you’re planting in a container, make sure that you provide a well-draining potting mix for your plants. You can opt to mix soil with organic matter, like peat moss, compost, and bark chips, to provide aeration and nutrients for the soil.
Choose your plants well
The first factor to consider should be your food preferences, but certain produce can be challenging to deal with in urban gardens. To illustrate, blackberries are one of the most heavily cultivated products from the farmers that we work with. But while these blackberries are rich in vitamins and minerals, their long growth cycle makes it difficult to cultivate these fruits at home.
Instead, you can work with vegetables that are easier to grow, such as beets, green onions, kale, lettuce, radishes, peas, and summer squash. For fruits, you’ll find it easier to grow figs, persimmons, oranges, and lemons.
Plants need a lot of TLC, which is why you'll have to plan your garden carefully. But if you do place your plants in the best environment possible, you can look forward to fresh and quality produce all year long!