Do you have that deep down drive to grow your own home grown vegetables but think your small studio apartment means you have to rely solely on store bought produce? Even if you live in the middle of a big city it is really possible to grow your own vegetables and herbs. Simply follow these steps and you’ll be whipping up creative and surprisingly easy meals in no time.
What are the benefits of homemade food?
While there is nothing wrong with store-bought herbs and vegetables, growing your own at home can give you many benefits. For example, their nutrient density will be better, because they will be as fresh as possible when you consume them (the longer vegetables sit around waiting to be eaten, the lower their quality). Plus, they’ll also be pesticide-free.
But gardening can also provide mental health benefits, even if it’s done in a very small outdoor area or indoors. According to the UK charity Royal Horticultural Society, Having more plants around has been linked to improved mood, productivity and less stress.
Can growing your own food reduce your carbon footprint?
But besides health, there’s another big benefit to growing some of your own vegetables: sustainability. That’s because homegrown vegetables aren’t packaged in plastic and then flown or shipped thousands of miles around the world to reach your table. According to the European Commission, transportation is responsible for about 19 percent of all food industry emissions.
8 Simple Tips for Growing Your Own Food in the City
If you feel inspired to reap the benefits of locally produced produce, don’t worry if you live in a built-up area! We have 8 tips to help you on your urban gardening journey.
1 Embrace the possibility of planting
Food will truly grow anywhere as long as these three healthy ingredients are present: soil, sun and water. So if you have a fire escape, a small deck or even a window sill, throw as many containers as you can and go for it. Containers can mean anything from newly purchased terracotta pots to old plastic paint buckets (make sure they’ve been cleaned thoroughly). It’s even possible to grow tomatoes directly from soil bags on the roof—just make sure you drill holes in the bottom of your pot for drainage. Indoor hydroponic gardening systems such as Lettuce Grow and AeroGarden have also become increasingly popular over the years and are making home gardening easier than ever.
2 Get down and soil
Stock up on some high-quality vegan organic (“veganic”) soil. Since many organic soils contain manure or other animal products, you’ll want to be careful that yours is cruelty-free. Dr. Earth’s Vegetarian Potting Soil is made without animal products and is readily available online. Between 10am and 2pm – look for an area that gets plenty of sunlight during peak hours and remember to water your plants once a day (usually in the evening).
3 Plan your plants
Once it’s all in place, fill your pot with soil, leaving about an inch of space at the top. Call your local nurseries to confirm which ones offer vegetable “starts” (seedlings that are ready for planting). Plant those starts in your container by digging holes about an inch deep under the top leaves. Give the plants plenty of room to grow, which means using 1 or 2 starts per pot, depending on pot size.
4 Create a waste path
Now that you’re a vegetable gardener, you’ll have more plant waste to compost, not to mention a better use for it when it’s ready. However, if you’re an urban gardener, you may not have room for a large compost bin. Kitchen-top compost bins are available online, but you can also research local composting pickup services in your area. If you don’t have your own compost bin, store your discarded vegetable peels in a container on the countertop or in a bag in your freezer. In most major cities, there are services that will pick up your scraps for a reasonable fee
5 Don’t forget to mix it up
Insects and other tiny critters love to eat your vegetables as much as you do. To discourage them as sympathetically as possible, try companion planting – placing different types of plants together. For example, basil and tomatoes are great to plant side by side, as are parsley and cilantro. Try to avoid planting only one crop in the same pot; This will help you get a variety of foods in your seasonal crops. If you’re growing on a windowsill or fire escape, planting bee-friendly crops like blackberries, cucumbers, peppers, squash and wild garlic will help pollinate your fruits and vegetables and even create a buzzing oasis.
6 Play with urban herbs
When planting in a small area, remember that herbs can go a long way while still not taking up a lot of space. Basil, parsley, thyme and cilantro can season almost any dish with serious flavor, without the need for space like tomatoes or eggplant. With some pots on your fire escape, you’ll be whipping up fresh vegan pesto and perfectly herbed tomato sauce in no time.
7 Listen to your plants
Vegetables may not have a voice, but they will definitely tell you what they need. During the hottest summer months, watch your crops. Do they look droopy and dry? They are probably asking you to water twice a day. Or are they happy and prosperous, exclaiming that a daily watering is plenty. But be careful not to drown in water! Yellowing, browning and wilting leaves on plants in damp soil can be a sign that they are getting too much water. It’s all about trial and error, and even the “experts” can’t read your plants like you can. So spend some time with them and learn their language.
8 let the sun shine
Plants in too much shade will appear thin, usually with a purplish tint. Chase the sun and make sure they get enough light. Container planting makes it easy to move them around. But there is such a thing in too much sun! If your plants are protected from fire, for example, heat can be reflected from hot metal, especially in late summer. You can tell because your plants will look quite literally scalded. In that case, try to find some shade or bring your plants inside for some time out of direct sun.
Liz Solmes He is an expert in organic farming and the owner of the sustainable agriculture business Banana Tree Consulting.