Posted on June 01, 2012
Here at MasterGardening.com we think everyone should be able to reap the benefits of gardening no matter how small their space. That’s why we are now a sponsor for Urban Organic Gardener. Mike at Urban Organic Gardener, dishes up a serving of great urban gardening advice every week through trial and error. We love this blog since Mike fully acknowledges he’s not an expert in all things green but he is learning a great deal though getting a little dirty and trying out different gardening techniques. Best of all he is passing all of his new found knowledge on to his readers!
In honor of the urban gardening movement we have rounded up all our favorite urban gardening products to help you get started on your own urban garden! There are 7 essentials needed for urban gardening- sunlight, containers, growing medium, fertilizer, support, water and of course plants or seeds! These products are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to urban gardening solutions. There is also tons of ways to DIY your way to a great garden in a small space (but thats for another day ;o))
Sunlight: Unfortunately we can’t make the sun shine any brighter or make your balcony face west instead of east but we can help your seeds get a healthy start and harness a bit of the sun you do get.
For bring sunlight indoors we recommend a grow light. Our Jump Start 2ft or 4ft Grow Lights with Stand will help you start your seeds off right indoors. If your balcony or patio lacks proper sunlight or you have a short growing season you can grow your plants completely indoors
If you have a short growing season you can extend your season with a grow rack. The Juliana 4 Tier Growing Rack is compact enough for a small balcony but gives you 4 shelves for growing all your favorite plants. The Growing Rack also disassembles for easy storage.
Containers: Containers are one of the most important and fun parts of urban gardening! There are so many options to choose from- rail, deck, window, self-watering, and more. The main thing to remember is size. You want to make sure your planters are the proper size for the plants you are growing.The Organic Earth Box is the perfect solution for the absentee gardener. This self-watering container holds 2 cubic feet of potting mix and 3 gallons of water. Perfect for bush beans, tomatoes, peppers, flowers and even melons.
Smart Pots are a great product for urban gardeners. They are light weight, made of a durable, breathable fabric that holds its shape. They are washer machine safe and fold flat for easy storage, have excellent drainage, and can be left out year round. The Smart Pots also keep soil temperatures 30 degrees cooler during the brutal hot summer months than a traditional planter. The growing possibilities are endless but we love them for strawberries, potatoes, onions and more.
Don’t forget about your deck or balcony railing when considering containers for your plants. This is a great way to expand your growing space. The Greenbo Urban Railing Planters have a sleek urban shape, come in 6 great colors and fit almost any shape railing up to 4 inches wide. The Greenbo also features 2 growing compartments so you can grow plants with different watering needs in one container. Great for flowers, herbs, and vines.
Growing Medium: When growing in containers it is important to use a good quality potting soil. A potting soil such as Professional Blend Potting Soil is specially blended to increase moisture retention while allowing for maximum drainage.
Another great product for urban gardeners is the Terrafirma Grow Bags. These light weight bags are filled with compressed coco coir potting medium. No lugging heavy soil and containers up several flights of stairs, this product wieghs just over 2 pounds.
Fertilizer: Growing in containers means that you are the sole source of nutrients for your plants. They can’t tap down into fresh soil to gather nutrients so you must feed them regularly.For growing edibles we recommend Dr. Earth’s Vegetable and Herb Fertilizer. Dr. Earth makes a great line of organic plant supplements that feed your plants slowly. Apply Dr. Earth’s Fertilizers once at planting and then every other month throughout the growing season.
Another great way to add nutrients to your soil is through compost. You don’t need a ton of space to make excellent compost from food scraps to feed your plants. At 31″ wide the Back Porch ComposTumble is perfect for deck or patio. This light weight tumbling composter can hold up to 37 gallons of material. If your really tight for outdoor space The Worm Factory is an excellent choice. The Worm Factory uses red worms to break down your scraps quickly with no foul odors leaving behind rich castings for your plants.
Support: When growing taller plants, such as tomatoes and bush beans or vines, such as melons and pumpkins it’s important to provide the growing plants with the proper support.
Plant Support is a great all purpose support for vegetables and flowers. At 30 inches tall you simple stake it into the pot of your choice to prevent sagging and broken plants.
The Providence Trellis is perfect for supporting vining plants. This trellis can easily mount to an exterior wall allowing for plants to grow vertically in tight spaces.
Water: Plants grown in containers dry out faster than those grown in ground. There are several products to help gardeners prevent dried out plants.If taking a vacation we recommend using thePlant Sitter to water your plants while your away. The Plant Sitter will water and fertilize your plants through drip irrigation at a slow and steady rate.
A water sensor like the Terra Cotta Worm Sensor can help gardeners be aware of soil moistness. Wormie changes from dark to light depending on the moisture content in the soil, letting gardeners know at a glance that their plant needs water.
Another watering solution for container plants is the Plant Nanny. The Plant Nanny is staked into the plant delivering water slowly straight to the roots of the plant.
Plants and Seeds: You can’t have a garden without plants. Here is a list of a few great choices for the urban gardener.
Potatoes - Potatoes can do very well in deep large containers.
Strawberries - Strawberries can be grown in small containers individually or you can grow large amount in tiered larger containers. A very pretty and versatile container plant.
Greens- Almost all greens (lettuce, kale, cabbage, mesulan, ect..) do very well in wide shallow containers.
Peppers- Smaller pepper varieties such as jalapeños, sweet carnival, and cayenne.
Bush Beans – Beans are a great container producer which grows very well with plant supports.
Melons- Small watermelons and cantaloupe can be grown in containers with a trellis system.
Pumpkins & Gourds- small pumpkin and gourds like melons do well in containers with a trellis system.
Herbs - Herbs are perfect for containers, especially mint with can take over a traditional garden.
Fruit trees- You can grow most fruit trees in containers, just be sure to get a dwarf varety. A few good choices of dwarf fruit trees are lemon, lime, banana, peach, and kumquats.
Berries- Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries can all flurish in the right containers.
And of course there is an endless list of flowers, succulents, foliage and vines.
What’s your favorite plant to grow in a small space??