Gardening in the Big City

Plants can be arranged vertically inside an apartment or out on a balcony. (Courtesy: Sarah Sammis at

Plants can be arranged vertically inside an apartment or out on a balcony.
(Courtesy: Lilah Shepherd at

So you now live in an apartment in a big city like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, but you used to live in the suburbs where you had several garden beds

Near a window or in a window well are ideal locations for a garden. (Courtesy: Noricum at

Near a window or in a window well are ideal locations for a garden.
(Courtesy: Noricum at

around the house and scattered along the lawn. You love to garden, but you think that the only way you can enjoy the hobby now is to read about it in gardening magazines. There just is no space in your apartment that you can dedicate to a garden.

Actually, you should take another look. Somewhere inside your apartment or outside on the balcony there is room where you can grow a modest vegetable garden.

There is actually a variety of ways you can grow vegetables in an apartment setting. For example, you can grow vegetables in containers that evolve into blossoming gardens.

And you think that there is no space for such a garden? Look again. There’s space over there near that window, there’s space on the balcony, or if you’re lucky enough to live in the penthouse, there’s space on the roof.

The best way to start out is to grow vegetables in containers. You can grow just about anything in a container including lettuce, tomatoes, beans, peppers, potatoes, and vine crops like cucumbers. When using containers, the main concern should be whether there is adequate drainage. Finding a container that satisfies that need is not difficult.

You can use smaller containers to host crops that have a shallow-rooting system. This would include carrots, lettuce, and radishes. You will need bigger containers to accommodate the roots of vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, and beans. Some urban gardeners have actually been known to use a five-gallon bucket to host the larger vegetables.

Use synthetic soils in the containers including wood chips, peat moss, sawdust, vermiculite, perlite, or any other variety of synthetic plant media. Add coarse gravel to the bottom of the container before filling it with soil. This helps to improve drainage.

If space is truly limited, you can grow vegetables in baskets that hang from the ceiling, mount off the wall, or create a vertical garden. Such a garden can be grown indoors or outdoors on the balcony. Such an arrangement will take up very little space. You can use shelves, hanging baskets or frames.

If you plan to place the containers on the floor, it might be best to elevate them about an inch or two with blocks. This assures better airflow and drainage. Still, you need to keep in mind that plants in containers need more water to prevent them from drying out.

If you are lucky enough to live in an apartment building where the landlord allows you to use the roof, then you can enjoy working on a roof top garden. Such gardens are ideal because you will be using space that might otherwise not have been used. This type of garden is energy efficient and is easy to care for. There may only be a few instances when you will have to pull weeds and do some watering. Since the garden is on the roof, then rainfall can do a lot of the moistening and the presence of the garden will reduce runoff.

So if you use a little imagination and scope out your apartment carefully you should be able to find plenty of space for gardening in the big city.

A balcony garden. (Courtesy: Sarah Sammis at flickr)

A balcony garden.
(Courtesy: Sarah Sammis at flickr)

About Robert Janis

Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq - Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.