How to Create Your Own Urban Garden

By Guest Blogger   |  10Comments|

Since you are part of the Crazy Sexy Life community, you know the importance of your food, where it comes from and how it’s grown. You also want to start growing your own food, but aren’t sure where to start and what to do since you live in an urban environment.

I understand because I was in the same situation back in 2009. During that time I was living in New York City. There was barely room for me and my bed in the same apartment. Let’s not talk about having a garden. But I was able to transform my 2-by-3-foot fire escape into an organic garden with lettuces, kale, Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, mint, oregano and more.

In 2010, I moved across the country to Los Angeles, where I had a 13-by-4-foot balcony that seemed like a farm compared to the fire escape. During this time, I was able to learn about what it takes to grow your own food in an apartment and urban setting, and now I want to share that information with you.

What I’m going to share is practical advice that will empower you to get started growing your own food. It’s not some secret potion that will help you to grow 30-pound pumpkins.

Here are the basic steps to get you started:

Decide Where Your Garden Will Be
There are more options than you would initially think when it comes to starting an apartment garden. It just takes looking at the space a bit differently and getting creative with it.

Some places you can have your garden are:

  • Deck
  • Windowsill
  • Patio
  • Railings

Think outside the box.

What to Grow
Now that you have the space decided and figured out how much sunlight to get, you’ll want to figure out what to grow. There are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself such as:

  • What do you eat most?
  • What makes the most financial sense?
  • What season is it?

Answering those questions will help you to figure out what’s best for you to grow.

Buying Your Seeds
Figuring out where to buy your seeds from can be overwhelming. There are so many companies out there. What’s the difference between all of them?

You may want to support a company that shares the same values as you do.

Here are three companies to check out:
? SeedsNow
? Botanical Interests
? Seed Savers Exchange

Starting Your Seeds
When it comes to starting your seeds, you can either go the DIY route or you can buy seed trays.

Two popular DIY options are using toilet paper rolls or newspaper. Both of those items you have available and will biodegrade in your garden.

If you just want to buy something, then there are seed starter pellets or seed trays. A company like The Greenhouse Catalog has a good assortment of seed-starting supplies on their site.

A word of advice when starting your seeds – make sure you label them. You think you are going to remember what you planted where, but 20 minutes later you’ll forget and just have unidentifiable seedlings.

Take the two minutes to label them. You can get creative or keep it simple.

Mike Lieberman is the publisher of UrbanOrganicGardener.com, where he shows people with little to no land how to start growing their own food so they can avoid toxic pesticides, eat healthier and not feel limited by their lack of experience and space.

Photo credit: Joel Down

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10 responses to How to Create Your Own Urban Garden
  1. What a very useful post. I live in a small apartment in Berli city, with no balcony but enough windowsills to grow herbs and salads. I am also looking for some community gardens to learn more about gardening and also meet people.

  2. Ani said on July 26, 2012

    Hi Mike,

    Great post, thank you! I have a small garden here in the UK but use a lot of pots to grow all kinds of things, it is amazing that I can grow a large plant out of a small pot! I use organic fertilisers to keep nutrients in the soil. This year has been hard as we have had SO much rain in the UK. My cucumber and aubergine (I think you call them egg plants in the US??) got waterlogged! I have lots of delicious courgettes (you call these zucchini? I had to look that up on Wiki), a blueberry tree, 2 pumpkin plants, some sweet peppers and lots of tomatoes, oh and a few beetroot – all in pots. It tastes so good to pick fresh food from the garden and helps me to be more connected to my food and what I eat. As a registered nutritionist and someone who works with women with emotional eating issues I often find that promoting ‘grow your own’ has far reaching healing benefits.

    Thanks again for highlighting this! Kind regards, Ani x

  3. I love this post! I so wish I could have my own garden!

  4. Starting my garden once my balcony has been renovated!

    p.s. you probably shouldn’t have used your FIRE ESCAPE as a garden.. 😛

  5. I like this post, it’s so nice to grow your own food. Started with a few herbs (re-planted green onions lol) and tomato plants on a very small balcony last year – this year we moved, and still without much space, decided to dig up the small patch of grass and empty flower bed in front of our house and plant a garden. We had no idea what we were doing to start, but have ended up with dozens of zuchinni, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, corn (growing nicely between the fence and driveway with the sunflowers =p), some berries and all sorts of herbs, but most exciting of all – greens! It’s awesome to be able to pick loads of fresh greens every single day to put in juices and smoothies, and be able to share them with people you care about. Now when I take a walk and look around, I can’t help but think, “there should be food growing there”, or “what’s the point of all those ‘decorative plants’, but no food?” … and then I think of the child who turned the corner to see my garden and and exclaimed, “WOAH! That’s weird!” haha .. I guess I’d have thought that too, like this post says, “it just takes looking at the space a bit differently”.

  6. I’m so excited we are having this discussion more and more in our real and virtual communities! My daughter and I planted our first garden last year…..I’ve wanted to for a long time…..but it took her vision and energy to make it happen! This morning we made green drinks from the garden and there is NOTHING like it. Here’s a (green) toast to growing our own food and being grateful to the beautiful Earth for her abundance. Imagine a world where children remember that connection :) We are on the way to dreaming that back into being. Wahoooo!

  7. What a great post. I am living in a small flat in the city and everything I grow has to find place on my windowsill or in big pots somewhere in the corner of my kitchen. Recently I stumbled over the idea to hang smaller pots (eg for herbs) using hooks or a small coatrack. And I am always thankful for more ideas and advise – so thanks a lot!

  8. Hi Mike – great article and wow! I have been growing my own garden in my Tower Gardens. Have you heard of them? Take a look it is part of the equation to the future of food! http://www.santabarbara.towergarden.com I couldn’t grow a thing until getting a few of these now we grow almost all our own produce – thanks for your inspiration!!!!

  9. Hi, I am from GeoPlanter and we make fabric containers which work great on balconies and in all small spaces – we also have a hanging planter which is great for herbs and such.
    It might be helpful to you.
    Hope this will beueseful to you!

  10. I’m not positive where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic information I was searching for this info for my mission.