Urban Garden Design
With food safety becoming more and more of concern to many of us, along with the very high cost of food, many of us a turning back the clock and revisiting the concepts of urban gardens. However, some people don’t have enough room to grow their own, and that’s where community mini farms, rent-a-gardener, rent-a-farmer, raised bed gardens, patio container gardens, and the new square foot gardens (a spin-off of the previously well-known square foot gardens of the past) — all deserve a closer look to see if they are right for your urban garden design.
Community Mini Farms
There’s also a revival of suburban/urban entrepreneurial reclaiming of unused properties, misused properties (abandoned lots, yards, etc.) for collective food supplies by groups and individuals.
Urban Gleaning is gaining in popularity, such as the successful “Portland Fruit Project,” in which its volunteers recoup fruits, nuts, berries, grapes, and other produce that would otherwise go to litter along urban streets.
Rent-A-Farmer or Rent-A-Garden Plot
With the current financial crisis, raising food prices and genuine concerns about food shortages there has been a recent return of families going to local agriculture and securing plots, or even having the local farmer grow for your family’s particular food needs.
Very often people are paying the farmers (if they are just renting the garden plot) in produce. Some are even renting vacant land for growing crops for re-sell in the local market.
Raised Bed Vegetable Garden
Raised bed gardens are ideal for those with physical handicaps, for places where there isn’t sufficient growing areas, and for those who live in areas with poor soil. Raised bed vegetable gardening is great in that it doesn’t require a lot of space. Raised beds are easier on the back and the rest of your body, because they are easily tended to from all sides. They require less upkeep because they get fewer weeds. They are ideal for those with disabilities, and those of us who are older, as they can be designed to consider height.
Mini Gardening — Patio Container Gardens
Growing plants in containers, along fences, in fence corners, in and around flower beds, next to walks and driveways, near the foundation of your house, patios, porches, balconies, and even on rooftops — can be accomplished even for those living in apartments, or zero lot houses. It’s very practical and can be a lot of fun, and visually very attractive.
There are certain crops that are best suited for different types of containers, some suggestions are:
- Chives, green onions, herbs, radishes, parsley, and lettuce — all can be grown in pots, tin cans, and even milk jugs. (Remember with cans to pain the inside with asphalt paint. Also, remember to pain clear glass containers with dark paint on the outside).
- Bush beans, parsley, herbs, and lettuce — can be grown in hollow concrete blocks, planting 2-3 in each section.
- Small bush type tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and strawberries — can be grown in hanging baskets and regular baskets.
- Strawberries, radishes, lettuce, onions, chives, herbs, carrots, parsley, chard, and cabbage — all can be grown in constructed beds.
- Strawberries and potatoes — can be grown in barrels.
- Tomatoes (bush type) and other small variety vegetables — can be grown in durable plastic bags (not the most attractive way to go)
Many of the above plants can be grown in found and discarded articles, such as old bath tubs, even old boots and shoes, etc.
The New Square Foot (Meter) Garden
Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of Mel Bartholomew’s “Square foot garden plan.” The reasons are that square foot gardening:
- Costs about 50% less
- Takes up 20% less space
- Uses less water than normally needed
- Requires less seeds
- Requires a whole lot less work
Now, he’s come out with an improved version of this method that makes a lot of sense in today’s troubling food crisis world-wide. Mel’s techniques are proven and fit well within the parameters of many home owner and apartment dwellers restrictions.