City slickers with green thumbs: top ways to garden in the city
Allotment gardens rose to prominence in 19th century Europe along with widespread industrialization and urbanization. Often located along the edges of railways, roads or factories, these gardens originally gave working-class families the chance to supplement their diet with fresh produce. These days, they primarily provide an open-air retreat from the nearby city.
Take a walk on the wild side of gardening. Guerrilla gardeners are urbanites who look for unused greenspaces in cities to start planting. Without any official permission, these green guerrillas typically do their planting and watering at night. They may face the occasional fine, but people (and sometimes the local government) appreciate these grassroots efforts to green and beautify the city.
Shared and community gardens
Urban community gardens often serve as a symbol of community spirit, providing local fresh vegetables in the middle of an urban environment. If your neighborhood doesn’t already have a local gardening group that you can join, do some scouting. Sometimes, vacant lots can be used by community groups for free, and you can even find garden matchmaking websites that connect gardeners to people with land to share.
Indoor farming can take many forms, several of which are described in greater detail in the sections below. Whether you use the traditional pot or one of the many commercially available LED terrariums or hydroponic systems, many options are available. One popular option is to start an herb garden in the kitchen.
The wall garden is a method often used by guerrilla gardeners, but you can also do it on the side of your own building or balcony wall. You can artistically arrange old PET bottles filled with soil or purchase a wall planter with as many fabric pockets as you need. Wall gardening is a very attractive solution for cities where available space is limited.
You don’t actually need a piece of ground. Take buckets, pots, pans or any kind of container and fill it with dirt. Container gardens can go anywhere you have space – whether inside by the window, or out on the balcony, roof or window ledge.
If you select the right plants, tiny gardens can be planted in wine corks, old shoes or even eggshells. Guerrilla gardeners sometimes design tiny gardens inside potholes or in places where a brick is missing in the pavement.
A window farm could be as simple as a few containers on your windowsill, but nowadays, when people talk about window farms, they are referring to plants grown using hydroponics in upcycled PET bottles arranged in vertical rows. It’s a good way to get a high yield of herbs, strawberries and other non-root plants all year round.
Rethinking the (concrete) jungle
While it’s true that cities are getting greener by design, everyday people can contribute, too. Everyone’s living situation is unique, but we can all add a little bit of green to our cities. Obviously, it is a very environmentally friendly hobby to pursue, but most of all it’s a lot of fun!