Kevin and I are now the proud owners of a small patch of green in the heart of the city in the local community garden. We are so excited! When we found out last week, we couldn’t wait to get down to the local nursery and start buying up every vegetable plant in sight. After our first few initial discussions about what we were going to plant, how much space we had, and issues about harvesting times, we realized that we probably needed to put a bit of planning into this if it was going to be a success. Here’s a few things I’ve learned as someone new to urban gardening having just gone through the process:
Know how much space you have to work with and organize it accordingly – if you want a flower garden, a vegetable garden, or some hybrid form of the two, look at your plot and see how you will lay it out. Maybe you want to stake out in simple rows to easily separate the plants and assist in irrigation, or maybe you want to organize your plot into sections where one area is for flowers, one is for vegetables, and one is for your carp pond (yes, someone constructed a tiny pond in their plot- it sounds tacky but it’s kinda cute). Because we were dealing with a triangular plot, Kevin and I organized it by creating diagonal rows and planted different veggies in different rows. The first was for green beans, the second for beets, the third for peppers and tomatoes, and the corner for our herbs.
Picking the right plants – It sounds obvious, but each vegetable and varietal is different. It’s important to know the specific plant’s requirements in terms of soil, shade, growing season, how large it will grow and therefore how much space you’ll need to give it. You have to choose and organize your plants wisely according to these. Unforseens will also occur; that’s inevitable. One thing that we have learned by speaking with the other gardeners is that we need to buy some wire mesh and plastic wrap to protect some of the plants from the raccoons!
Tools/equipment – we haven’t had to buy a tool yet! The community garden has a shed onsite that supplies a wheelbarrow, hoes, shovels, rakes, watering can, you name it! They even supply you with topsoil and have a few water taps disbursed around the site so you can water your plants to your heart’s delight.
Part of the reason that we are so excited about this is because we’re going to be able to literally reap what we sow. Getting down and dirrrty is a lot of fun and really connects you to the earth- because it’s so easy to get disconnected when you’re living and working 12 floors up in a concrete and glass jungle. but that’s not the only awesome part about urban gardening. There’s also an interesting social aspect to urban gardening. It’s cool to know that we are going to have a lot of veggies in a couple of months, and what better way to celebrate that than having your friends over for a big meal or sharing in the harvest (believe me, at one point, we are going to be drowning in green beans- we kinda went a little overboard with those, so I hope you all like them! Any birthdays coming up?)
We’ve been out in our patch a few times now and almost every five minutes, someone will come up to us from the sidewalk to comment on the plants, just say hi, or thank us for making their community a nicer place. Plus, when we were planting our initial crop, there was about six of us that helped get things going and plant. We all got into it, and we also met a few of the other garden owners as we tilled and watered… the only thing missing was a cocktail! Garden party at the patch! I shouldn’t say that too loud though, the site is located across the street from one bar and next to another, we might need more than mesh and plastic wrap to keep people from frolicking in my pansies at 2 AM!
We are having so much fun with it though. If you are at all interested in urban gardening, do it. Find your own local community garden, they are everywhere!