Do I ever enjoy urban gardening! It’s so much fun to be innovative with the limited amount of dirt that we have to raise enough food to preserve and eat throughout the year. If you’re a newbie, it’s no big deal to raise up one bed in your own yard and go from there. But let me tell you, once the garden bug hits, you’ll be scouring your neighbor’s yard! For me, it’s come down to utilizing 5 different techniques. The square foot garden method, raised beds, community gardening, container gardening and edible landscape gardening.
The square foot garden
Mel Bartholomew is a genious! He came up with the idea to raise up 4 x 8 beds, fill it with a mixture of 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite, grid it off in 1 x 1 sections, and plant a different flower, vegetable or herb in each square foot, using 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants per square foot. It maximizes what you can plant in a small area. I have seen gardens flourish using this method and the output is incredible!
Here is my current Spring plan that I planted outdoors two weeks ago. I utilized two of my raised beds and although this diagram is not exact it gives you an idea of how I used a grid to know how many qty of veggies to sow. The empty areas is where I will plant my second succession of the same crop.
I can’t speak highly enough of raised beds. If you live in the city, it’s one the best and easiest ways to garden. It allows you to fill it in with rich organic soil and compost. A necessity for those of us that have a lot of clay, sand or rocks in our yards. They are visually appealing to our neighbors and easily incorporated into the landscape. One of my favorite things about raised beds is that they keep the insect and weed populations down! Raise it up a little higher and the bunnies and ground squirrels will stay away as well. Irrigation of water is wonderful in raised beds, just make sure to stay on top of watering during the very hot months.
A revelation to those of us with shady backyards or apartment dwellers with no land. Cities throughout our nation are taking a stand for the local foods movement and providing us with abandoned areas to garden in. They generally divide the land into plots and assign them to city dwellers. It revitalizes the landscape and builds community! I have been so blessed by our community garden. I have met the most amazing people both seasoned and novice gardeners helping each other to continually learn all that organic gardening entails. I am so excited as our community garden this year is expanding to 60 more plots! That’s 60 more gardeners to chat with, learn from, and best of all…. share our harvest!
Here is a post I wrote last year specifically on how I got involved in our community garden and how I started on my path to growing my own and supporting local family farmers The Local Foods Movement Part 1: The Franklin Community Garden. If you are from Des Moines, Iowa I would encourage you to look into the Community Gardening Program. It’s really a win win situation. The city provides you with the plot, compost, wood chips, and water! All you have to do is seed, feed, and weed! How awesome is that?!!
Another great way to grow your own in small spaces! I generally grow my herbs in large containers in my backyard. This year I’ll be utilizing the Garden Patch™ Grow Box™ to grow my cucumbers in and 55 gallon drums to grow my potatoes! When you run out of room, growing in containers is the way to go. Just make sure to stay on top of watering as the containers heat up quickly underneath the hot sun and dries out the soil. Container gardening is also a great way to control insects, fungus and disease. For all you apartment dwellers, container gardening is a suitable way to grow veggies on your apartment roof!
Edible Landscape Gardening
This is an area I’m excited to start diving into. Incorporating vegetable plants into our landscape. This year I am pulling up a perennial I have growing in my front garden. I will replace it with vertically growing beans which should look beautiful to the side of my large window in front of my house. It will add greenery and be visually appealing to passer by’s. For me, the added bonus is that I will have beans growing right in my front yard! This is the theory behind edible landscape vegetable gardening. Incorporating vegetable plants and fruit bushes into the landscape side by side perennials and annuals. Swap an ordinary bush for a blueberry bush! Add sweet potatoes into the mix. The vining foliage is both beautiful and edible! The tubers will store all winter It’s really just thinking about how to integrate your vegetable plants and fruit bushes to have it look like a part of the landscape.
Well garden soldiers, I hope this was helpful. With all the outdoor gardening I’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks, I didn’t have a chance to get a post up called, “It’s Spring… Start Planting Now!” As a reminder, it’s a perfect time to seed spring vegetables outdoors now. They will have ample time to thrive in the cooler weather before they fade away in the summer. If you don’t have any raised beds or plots, you can start by growing a salad garden in containers. A few containers seeded with lettuce, carrots, radishes and beets! A super easy way to grow your own salad!
Until next time, have fun outside
Part 1: Ordering Seed Catalogs
Part 2: Understanding the differences between Heirloom, Hybrid, GMO, and Organic Seeds
Part 3: Planting Zones, Frost Dates, and Planting Calendars
Part 4. Understanding Succession Planting
Part 5. Spring Time is Near! It’s Time to Start Those Seedlings!
Part 6. Growing Seeds Indoors Under Supplemental Lighting
Part 7. Tending your seedlings
Part 8. Methods of Urban Gardening