As families become more health-conscious and think more about the food they consume, family farms are on the comeback, regardless of the size. Whether driven to grow produce on their own to make sure their vegetables are pesticide-free, out of a passion for gardening or as a cottage industry for extra cash, city-dwellers are using innovative means to produce crops of their own.
Your ability to grow fruits, vegetables and a variety of herbs at home depends primarily on three things: Your climate zone, Available property, and Your desire.
Even an apartment-dweller in Alaska can raise edibles, given the right tools and motivation. Here are the primary things to consider when planning your garden:
What crops will you grow?
For outdoor gardening, the first step is to check local zoning ordinances and/or homeowner’s association rules. Then determine your plant hardiness zone. Take that number and consult a planting schedule to find recommended plants and the best times for planting. Selecting plants can be almost as much fun as growing them.
Indoor gardening is especially affected by available light. If you have large, south-facing windows, you’re set. If not, you will need to set up grow lights or get really creative. Hearty indoor crops that may work for you include: avocados, carrots, microgreens, lemons and scallions.
How can you garden… without a garden?
When you think of a garden, you probably envision lush rows of crops and tilled soils, producing plant after plant of vegetable-producing crops. Luckily, this dream may not be as far-fetched as you think. Find out if there is a community garden in your area, and take advantage of a fertile space to call your very own. Community gardens can be a way to share in the work, strengthen community bonds and enable others to participate. With the right equipment and some sweat equity, any community can turn a vacant lot into a food-producing zone.
It is entirely possible to garden at home, though, even when space is scarce. Urban gardeners have developed innovative ways to garden in small spaces.
• Build a grow tower: A 15-gallon plastic drum, a length of five-inch PVC pipe, a drill, and dirt—that’s all you need to garden vertically. This Grow It! video demonstrates how.
• Garden in containers: Use containers of all sorts on your porch and patio to maximize your growing space including buckets, planter boxes, hanging baskets, pots, and wooden barrels.
• Create a rooftop garden: Utilize the space that most of us never even think about, your rooftop! If you have a flat space on your roof and a safe way to access it, consider designating that area as your growing space.
Don’t be discouraged by small spaces when you have the urge to grow your own produce. There are plenty of innovative ways to support a small garden, it’s just a matter of getting creative and finding the best route for you. Once you’ve sliced and tasted your very first home-grown tomato or finished your first batch of pesto from your home-grown basil, you’ll know that all the hard work was well worth it!