There is a growing trend for urban dwellers to grow their own vegetables herbs and flowers in containers, both indoors on balconies, kitchen window sills and outdoors in tiny spaces on verandahs, in entrance ways and on balconies.
Even tiny front and back yards spaces are being turned into productive mini vegetables patches, sometimes using mini hot houses. The front yard patch of lawn is a thing of the past in many inner city areas, replaced by highly productive vegetable gardens in raised beds.
There are many high-tech and low-tech approaches for making urban container gardens work. High tech options involves modular soil-less systems with lighting, watering and planting systems. Low tech options involves adapting existing things, sometimes junk in smart ways to improve yields. This includes what containers to use and how to water them.
Vertical and hanging gardens designs and mini-gardens like herb patches that you start harvesting almost as soon as you plant them.
This article discusses how to start a smart and productive urban garden using containers in your patch.
A number of suppliers now offer Mini Indoor Self-Contained, Computer-Controlled Hydroponic Systems. These soil-less systems have a water reservoir to which you add a few drops of fertilisers. Just add seeds to the soil-less growing pods and the self-contained unit will manage everything for you.
The lighting is designed to mimic the natural growing cycles for plants including sunrise, sunset and even the seasons in your area. The artificial lights mean that you can place theses units anywhere in your house, both indoors and out. they make a nice feature in your living room similar to a fish tank.
These units are ideal for herbs or leafy green plants than can be continually harvested. Salad greens, kale, baby spinach, mini-tomatoes, beets and radishes are good options to get started.
Urban gardeners have used cheap recycled plates, pots, vases and even casserole dishes and baking trays to grow herbs and other vegetables. Ladders and shelves are a great way to stack the pots against walls or in free-standing displays.
Re-cycled laundry tubs are excellent for a mini-garden bed.
Raised beds using timber, bricks or old sleepers are an excellent way to raise the bed and make it easier to plant weed and harvest the beds.
You can easily add hoops of plastic plumbing pipe to provide support for plastic sheeting to make a mini-hothouse in an urban garden in yards and outdoor spaces.
There are many vertical garden pot designs that have a small foot-print, but a large number of separate paces for growing plants. You can buy them ready made, either free-standing or as units that are attached to a wall or fence. There are many do it yourself options using re-cycled wooden or plastic barrels. Watering systems can be devised so that you can water the whole unit at once.
There are many create ways of adding a garden to a wall or fence using pots or elongated tubs or troughs that are attached to the vertical structures.
Micro-greens are simply tiny young seedlings grown in seedling trays that are harvested with scissors when very young. It is virtually an extension of sprouting of seeds. They can grow indoors or on a windowsill or shelf outdoors.
You need a location that gets 4-6 hours of direct sunlight for the seedlings to grow. You also need seedling trays, potting mix. a spray bottle for watering and an array of plant seeds such as beets, kale, radish, lettuce, herbs and radishes.
► Fill the tray with soil to about three-quarters full.
► Tamp the soil down and spray with water.
► Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the surface and sprinkle a thin layer of soil on top.
► Gently tamp down again and spray with water.
► Spray the seedlings with a little water each day to keep the soil moist and the seeds will germinate in 2-3 days.
► After as little as 5-8 days you can start harvesting your micro-greens.
► By having several trays, planted at weekly intervals, you can have a continuous supply of green leafy vegetables that have a varieties of uses.
► Simply replant when the plants are exhausted or they grow too large for the seedling trays.
► Using a cover can create a mini-hothouse environment for the plants, which will encourage faster grown and will prevent the soil from drying out.