In recent years, urban farming has brought a whole new level of sustainable living to those in urban and suburban areas. The
urban farm movement has popularized container gardening, allowing folks with limited or no outdoor space to creatively maximize their garden area. Whether you want to add some color to your front steps, turn your balcony into a secret garden or grow your own food, there is a perfect container for you.
Medium to large size pots are perfect for creating decorative pieces for your front door, inside your home or to hang in your patio. This article in Southern Living Magazine gives some examples of combining multiple plants into one pretty pot, creating a mini eco-system. For your decorative piece, you can stick with flowers of a similar color or mix crawling flowers, cacti and grasses to create depth and texture. Try planting in a hanging moss basket, a carved terracotta pot or a hand painted piece to match the decor in your home.
An empty soup can, with a few adjustments, makes an excellent flower pot. Using this recycled container can save you money and the environment. You will want to use a clean can with no sharp edges (so you don’t cut yourself!). Remove all labels and adhesive, then use your can opener to make drainage holes all around the bottom of the can (like a dotted line). You can beautify your can with paint, stickers or fabric. Soup cans are the perfect size for growing fresh herbs- try decoratively labeling a can for each herb you’d like to grow in your kitchen.
Another way to recycle containers for growing plants is to make a bottle garden. Bottle gardens can be hung indoors on a sunny wall or outside on your patio. Start with some empty two liter soda bottles. You can decorate them with paint or simply cover the outside in tin foil to shade the roots (not as pretty, but once your plants grown and climb, your bottle garden will look beautiful). Constructing a bottle garden can be tricky, but when finished it looks really nice and is perfect for climbing plants like tomatoes and peppers. Here is a video that I found to be a useful visual for bottle garden construction.
Garden boxes are great for outdoor gardening in a limited space. You can find easy to assemble boxes at Home Depot or you can build a customized box out of plywood. Before positioning your box on the porch or patio, observe the sunlight in your outdoor space for a day. If you are growing fruits and veggies, make sure you choose a spot that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. Some flowers, cacti and shrubs need less light (like Mona Lavender which grows in the shade), so place your box accordingly. If you are growing food you should create a border of organic marigolds and fragrant herbs (basil, mint, cilantro) to ward off destructive bugs and to attract pollinators.
No matter what kind of containers you use for your urban garden, it is important to make sure those containers have proper drainage. A store-bought flower pot will already have drainage holes in the bottom. But, if you are making a pot out of recycled materials you will need to make small holes all along the container bottom. Poor drainage leads to poor airflow, making it difficult for roots to grow and potentially causing root diseases.
For plants that are grown indoors- ensure there is plenty of space between plants. A lack of air flow can cause mildew, so do not allow your plants to become congested and grow over each other. It is also a good idea to cover the top of your indoor plants’ soil with decorative rocks. This discourages fruit flies from making nests in your soil.
I hope this entry has given you some ideas for getting creative with gardening!