Gardening Tips for the Budding Vegetarian
Gardening is a trend that is here to stay. Where there were once drab cement stairs and cold urban landscapes, there are now gardens overflowing with abundant lush roughage.
Besides being a fun hobby, gardening is a smart choice! In this era of constant food recalls, foodborne illness outbreaks, yo-yo prices, and concerns about the wholesomeness of our food supply chains, people are warming to the idea of growing their own food. Here are our gardening tips for the budding vegetarian!
Gardens come in all shapes and sizes and are as unique as the gardener who watches over them. Traditional gardens are large, abundant, and grown in tidy plot. Urban gardens are the modern answer to tradition; made possible by resourceful ingenuity that is uniquely human.
Here are some tips to get you started on your own urban garden.
Assess your Space
Whether traditional or urban, you have to work with the space you have. Urban gardens are typically container gardens, which behave differently than traditional gardens. The advantage is that the garden can be fit into your available space. Traditional gardens still require careful placement.
- Identify your best places to grow plants. Watch sunlight patterns in your area. Look at balconies, windowsills, rarely used fire escapes, common areas, and shared walkways. Urban gardens need at least 4 hours of quality sunlight, 6-8 for traditional gardens.
- Look high and low because vertical space is critical real estate with urban garden. Hanging containers, trellises, and terraces will help you to make use of every cubic inch of space.
- Figure out how much time you will have every week to dedicate your garden. If you can dedicate an hour every day, you can tend to several large containers. If you are limited to a few minutes every day, just plan on a few pots to start.
Indoor? Outdoor? Both?
Urban gardens are often a mix of indoor and outdoor operations. But before you go and buy a bunch of planters in soil and convert your apartment into the garden, we suggest you to start small and ease into it. Master gardeners are not born overnight!
Why indoor gardens: Indoor gardens make good use of sunny windows. Fruits and vegetables can also be grown year-round thanks to stable temperatures and controlled lighting, provided there is enough sunlight. Indoor gardens maximize food output from a small living space.
Why outdoor gardens: traditional gardens are grown outside. Outdoor gardening is seasonal, which makes the foods produced at the peak of the season tastier than anything found at the store. The same is true of outdoor urban gardens provided they receive enough sun and rich compost.
Keep in mind…
1. With indoor gardens:
- you may have to use mirrors or special grow lights to achieve good results.
- The grow lights may cause your energy bills to rise.
- You may also need to cross-pollinate fruits manually with an indoor garden.
- People who like looking plants love growing indoor gardens.
2. Outdoor gardens:
- Are susceptible to fluctuations in temperature and require full sunlight.
- Suffer attacks from pests
- In rare cases neighbors may snag your harvest – but most are considerate and just hope you will share!
All gardens require regular feed and watering, with container gardens needing a little more.
Make a Plan
It is helpful to map out your garden. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil and make a rough sketch of your garden. Try to make it to scale. Draw on the map where you want but your planters and label each planter with what you want to grow.
Take it a step further and think about replenishing the garden. Eventually, the plants will die and you will have an open container. You’ll want to grow more because it’s so much fun!. So make a plan to replenish planters so that you can have a nonstop supply of deliciousness.
For example, a bell pepper plant will take about 2 to 3 months to bear fruit and will produce peppers for another 2 to 3 months. Start a new pepper plant as the original pepper plant begins to bear fruit. When the original plant stops bearing peppers, you can replace it with the start.
When choosing plants to grow, consider what grows in your area, what you like to eat, and choose breeds that do well in containers.
A good place to start is with the USDA plant hardiness zone. There are several zones and each has a unique code. It helps to guide gardeners to strains that have best prospects of success in your microclimate.
Once you have decided which plants to grow, look for varieties that are suited to containers and your particular hardiness zone. If you are concerned about GMO, purchase heirloom seeds. When you are purchasing seeds or starts, make sure that they are compatible with your hardiness zone – especially if they are going to be growing outdoors.
Caring for the Garden
Of course, the plants are not going to thrive on their own. Gardening is a mutually beneficial arrangement. You give the plants water, food, and love; they give you delicious food and nutrients for you body. Every garden has unique needs, but most require at least 1 daily watering and weekly feeding.
Care also includes activities such as deadheading, pruning, pest management, and moving things around to adjust to changing sunlight.
It is a good idea to arrange for a backup plan if you have to leave town or find yourself unable to care for your garden for some reason. Have a friend or neighbor on-call to water your garden in the case of emergency. This way, your garden will still be maintained until you get back.
Gardens are the perfect answer for a budding vegetarian that wants to take control of their food supply. Just because you live in a small space does not mean that you cannot garden. It just means you have to be really creative and smart about it!
- Assess your space and make a plan
- Decide whether you want to do indoor or outdoor or both
- Pick plants that will work for your unique zone and garden plan
- Remember to give lots of love to your plants!
We would love for you to share your traditional and urban gardening tips. Please be sure to tell us what zone you are in so there is a reference for the plants you are growing. Leave your comments below or join the conversation on our social media pages!
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