Homesteading can be done in the city as well as the country, you just need to get creative! Want to save money while having fresh ingredients? It can cost a lot of money to eat healthy, but you can supplement your income and decorate your home while making it smell good and bring joy all with growing your own produce. Plants don’t care if they’re grown on a sprawling farm or on the balcony of a city apartment, so long as their needs are being met. Organic homesteading can be accomplished in an urban environment too. Your garden may be smaller than Farmer Johns, but you can still successfully grow organic food to supplement your diet, improve your health, and reduce food costs. Use these tips to help your urban garden produce more food so you can be a part of the organic homesteading movement right in the middle of a major city. One plus of growing indoors is you really don’t need to worry about weeds or pests so much.
An urban garden can produce more food or herbs and spices in smaller spaces if the right plants are grown.
Select dwarf or bush varieties of your favorite vegetables and fruits for organic homesteading in an urban setting. The produce will be the same size and flavor, only the plant will be smaller and take up less garden space.
Select plants that are drought-tolerant, disease, and pest resistant, so that your garden chores will be decreased and plant production will be increased. For instance, I recommend the kumquat, it is easy to grow and can produce quite a bit of delicious citrus fruit. Herbs are always easy and can make your house smell amazing if you have a lot of them. I have Mint, Rosemary, Oregano, and Lemon Thyme growing outside and it is very lovely to have the breeze carry the smell in the air on a beautiful day.
Urban Garden Options
City dwellers have dismissed the idea of growing organic food in the past due to lack of outdoor space but that is changing now. Urban gardening has many creative options, including small hydroponics, vertical gardening and community gardening. Hydroponics is growing plants without soil, by instead using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. Not to be confused with Aquaponics which incorporates fish into the mix, that provides food for the plants and some people have large systems and even eat the fish.
A Vertical garden uses any vertical space, indoors or outdoors, that receives 6-hours of direct sunlight daily. An exterior building wall, interior wall, privacy fence, balcony rail, etc., can be used to grow food.
Vertical garden containers can be purchased and there are many ideas for DIY vertical gardens that use recycled plastic bottles and other items as plant containers.
If you don’t have the correct amount of sunlight you can always purchase Grow lights. This works perfect for growing your own herbs for seasoning and medicinal uses. You can find all kinds of awesome growing gadgets for indoor gardening on Amazon check it out here.
Community gardens are plots of land that are rented for a nominal fee and used to grow food and flowers. Neighbors get acquainted in community gardens plus you get exercise and fresh food.
Small community gardens have been so successful that the demand for more garden space and the opportunity to grow fresh food to feed the hungry gave birth to the urban garden idea. Large-scale urban gardens and food forests have developed as a means of helping to feed the hungry in inner-city environments.
If you live in a building with a roof you may be able to communicate with your landlord and see if they will let you use the roof for a urban garden.
Select The Right Location
Vegetable plants will require at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. Select the sunniest location available for your organic garden.
Tall structures within an urban environment create shade and finding the right location for an urban garden can be challenging. Creativity and thinking outside the in-ground garden plot may be needed for successful plant growth. If you don’t have access to one location that receives six hours of sunlight each day, create a mobile container garden. Place growing containers on wheeled dollies so the containers can be moved throughout the day to follow the sun or purchase Grow lights and have a slightly increased electric bill. Small pots of herbs grown indoors can follow the sun by starting their day in an east-facing window and ending their day in a west-facing window. Rooftop gardens can be grown in mobile containers, like wheelbarrows and recycled child’s wagons.
Feed The Soil
Whether you’re growing an urban garden on the window sill, a rooftop, a balcony, or in-ground in a community garden, successful growing starts in the soil.
Start with a good quality potting soil and compost for container-grown plants. They also make a cowpot that works great, its made of cow poo is odorless and decomposes over time and feeds your plants. When you use compost mix at a 50/50 ratio and fill containers to within 1-inch of the top rim. For in-ground gardens, apply 6-inches of compost on top of the soil and work it down to the depth of 12-inches.
The compost provides organic food for growing plants all summer so chemical fertilizer will not be needed. The compost will also help improve drainage and prevent soil compaction. A little secret I learned is you can place your old banana peals in the pot around the plant and it will provide the plant with natural nutrients.
Gardening is a deep subject and this just scratches the surface! You can comment below with your experiences or let us know what you would like to discuss in our next topic. Check out our blog on Holistic Herbs to Grow on the Homestead or if you want to learn about mushrooms click here!