If you love food, getting the greenest and healthiest fruit and veg possible is important. In this regard, what’s more important than your own home?
You don’t need a lot of space to support yourself and, with a little effort, you can easily grow healthy, organic produce that can be used for a variety of tasty meals.
Growing your own garden doesn’t take too much time and you can easily fit it into any busy schedule. Whether it’s a large vegetable bed or a small window-side herb tray, here is how you can start your own urban garden.
Use separate beds.
When planting in the garden, use separate plant beds, rather than putting everything straight into the ground.
As will be discussed later, this will allow you to cater to various different needs without altering the conditions of another plant.
Of course, if you don’t have a garden, that’s not a problem either. If you have a balcony or large window with plenty of sunlight, then you can buy various bedding trays to achieve the same result.
In terms of size, this will vary depending on what you want to grow and how much of it you want. At the smallest scale, you may simply wish to grow your own herbs, which require a little space.
That being said, you should ensure these beds are at least deep enough for your plants to take root. It’s also useful to start off small and develop as you grow more confident, or simply want more food.
Keep an eye on pH levels.
As has just been mentioned, plants have various requirements, such as sunlight and water. The most technical aspect is the pH level.
Fortunately, this isn’t as complicated as it seems. Simply put, pH levels range from highly acidic, a pH of 0, to highly alkaline, a pH of 14. A pH of 7 is neutral.
Various plants have different pH requirements, as this represents the type of soil they need to receive nutrients and prosper.
Do you enjoy carrots? They require a pH between 6 and 6.5, while potatoes can enjoy anything between 5 and 6 pH, depending on the species. Clearly, these two plants shouldn’t be in the same soil bed.
The pH level can be easily monitored with sensors, or even just with pH litmus papers. Simply keep track of what each plant requires and, if the soil starts to change, add acidic or alkaline substances (such as the various fertilizers discussed here) to bring the pH up or down.
Organic mulch and compost.
A big part of enjoying an urban garden is for its green benefits, so you should stay away from traditional, chemical-heavy fertilizers.
Instead, why not use your own organic waste to fertilize your food?
Don’t throw away grass cuttings, leaves or your leftover food, as it’s all useful. If it’s biodegradable, it can be used to make some fantastic compost.
All you need to is store this in a dark, damp environment or container and let nature do the rest. Of course, if you control what acidic and alkaline materials go in, you can control the pH level of the resultant compost – perfect for fine-tuning the soil for healthy crops!
Generally, your own home has enough waste to sustain yourself. After all, if you’re only growing food for one person, then you have enough waste from one person, too. Dead plants, leaves and roots are also useful too, so don’t throw anything away.
Use natural water.
Furthermore, if you’re living a green lifestyle, you likely already know about the various agents you can find in tap water.
When watering your own plants, switch to rainwater. This is easy to collect, as you can use a large container to catch it when it rains. Likewise, an efficient rainwater pump will allow you to water your garden like normal, only safe in the knowledge that your crops aren’t being doused with the likes of fluoride or chlorine.
If you want to get a little more technical, why not make your own bone meal? As the name suggests, this requires bones, so save all of your chicken leftovers and rib bones throughout the weak.
This provides a calcium rich nutrient that doesn’t cost you anything extra, yet adds to your green lifestyle. If you ever need more, most butchers and abattoirs will gladly offload some of their own bones.
Likewise, if you’re a fan of seafood, you can make fish emulsion from your leftovers. You can even use ground coffee beans (which, as an added bonus, can make alkaline soil more acidic) if you’re a regular coffee drinker.
Start a seed bank.
Plants produce numerous seeds and, in no time at all, you will have more seeds than you need. This is when you should start to create a seed bank, which serves two main purposes.
First of all, having spare seeds gives you a backup plan if something goes wrong, such as a heatwave, excessively cold winter or even just a local infection among your plants.
Secondly, having spare seeds allows you to help others living a green lifestyle and engage in the wider community.
Got a friend that wants to start growing their own food but doesn’t want to buy seeds from a garden centre, due to a risk of pesticides? Give them some of your spare seeds and share the joy of green gardening!