From the Publisher
Why Urban Gardening?
I could give a market bag full of grandiose reasons why urban gardening is a wonderful pastime to explore: fresher food, less environmental impact, a more beautiful home. But for me, the real reason is simple . . . it’s fun.
We live in an increasingly digital and disconnected world. Many of us, myself included, are either behind a computer or a steering wheel for much of the day. There’s not much time left to explore Mother Nature.
The solution? Bring Mother Nature into your home and start growing plants. Not only is it a wonderful way to reconnect with the natural world, but urban gardening (or suburban, exurban, or any other kind of gardening for that matter) can also fundamentally change your life.
About This Book
The goal of this book is simple: to help demystify the secrets of the “green thumb” and show you how to get started in urban gardening, no matter what type of living situation you’re in.
Green Thumb Basics
There’s an unlimited amount of information about how to grow specific fruits and veggies. What I’ve done throughout is try to reduce that information into essential knowledge you need to grow a beautiful, productive urban garden.
You’ll get these great benefits:
- fresher, healthier produce that you can eat minutes after harvesting
- a deeper appreciation for the food on your plate
- stronger relationships with your neighbors, friends, and family
I know you’re tempted to dive right into the garden plans. And if you’re an experienced gardener, be my guest. But for new gardeners, or anyone in need of a brush up, check out this chapter, in which you’ll learn:
Understanding these foundational principles will help you be a better gardener from the very beginning. So let’s get started.
The simplest way to dip your toe into urban gardening is a bit of soil, a pot, and a seedling. My gardening journey began back in 2010 when I grew massive basil plants with my brother. We didn’t have much space at the time but were still able to grow enough basil to have pesto for an entire summer… and then some.
The world of container gardening can be confusing, though. First of all, what type of container is best? Plastic planters, terra-cotta pots, glass? Each type of container has its own benefits, but the best containers have the right blend of these three qualities:
Raised Bed Gardening
Raised beds are one of the most popular urban gardening methods, understandably so. There are a million and one good reasons to grow in raised beds as opposed to in-ground, especially in urban environments. Plus, they look beautiful, no matter what style of raised bed you decide to build.
That said, many gardeners get overwhelmed when thinking about starting their own raised beds with questions such as:
Answers to all of these questions, along with step-by-step plans, await you in this chapter.
For the space-challenged gardener, there’s no better method to learn than vertical gardening. Instead of treating the ground under your feet as the only growing space you have, consider the fact that there’s an entire world above the ground to take advantage of.
Besides the space savings, the advantages of vertical gardening are almost endless, including:
If you think you can’t grow anything because you don’t have any space outdoors, then think again. Indoor edible gardening is not only possible, it’s simple. With a little creativity and an understanding of how to care for plants grown inside your home, you’ll have bountiful harvests even if you live in a tiny apartment.
In this chapter, you’ll learn:
Balconies and Rooftops
My first gardens ever were in townhouses and apartments, so don’t think you can’t grow simply because of your living situation. Use your balconies, railings, and rooftops creatively, and you’ll be astonished at the amount you can grow in such a small space.
In this chapter, you’ll learn how to:
Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants using only water, nutrients, and a growing medium. The word “hydroponics” comes from the root words hydro, meaning water, and ponos, meaning labor. To put it bluntly, hydroponics is a method of growing where the water does all of the work.
Sounds high tech and futuristic, right? You might be surprised to learn that the earliest examples of hydroponics date back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Floating Gardens of China. Humans have used these techniques for thousands of years.
No matter how experienced you are with plants, you’re going to run into some issues throughout your growing journey. Whether it’s a pest infestation, disease, or a simple watering issue, this chapter is designed to cover the most common growing problems and their solutions.
In this chapter, you’ll learn how to: