Apr 04.17

Urban Gardening Tips

How To >> Green

Greening your space in springtime is a therapeutic and satisfying experience, no matter the size of your space. If you have a sliver of balcony, a windowsill or even a community garden, we’re here to give you all of our urban gardening tips.

Know your zone
The first thing you’ll want to know is what climate you live in, otherwise known to your green leafy friends as “plant hardiness zone”. From St. John to San Francisco, there are many growing zones in North America, and you’ll want to choose plants that do well in your zone. Check out this handy website to figure out what might grow well in your zone.Indoor mint garden

You’ll be making your space into its own little ecosystem. Map places that are exposed to lots of sun, wind or shade. This will be a determining factor in what plants you choose. Your containers don’t have to be fancy — you can reuse and recycle nearly anything, as long as it’s clean and offers adequate drainage.

Seeds or seedlings?
Starting from seeds requires patience and careful monitoring in the beginning, but is incredibly rewarding. Seedlings (either from a kind neighbor or started in a commercial greenhouse) can be popped into the container or ground and will grow more rapidly than seeds. In either case, choose organic and heirloom species where you can, as these plants will be free of pesticides and herbicides. Don’t forget compost from a local garden, and soil from organic and local sources!Organic Seeds

Companion planting
Are you a blossoming beauty with flowers abundantly draping your patio, or are you a veggie vixen cultivating your next farm-to-table dinner? The good news is that the most abundant gardens intermingle edibles and flowers. It’s called companion planting – it enriches the soil, attracts pollinators and can protect your plants from pests! Some great companion plants to start you off include:

- Zucchini, dill and nasturtium will live happily together in deep containers, offering a riot of color and tastiness for your next summer salad.
- Try sage, broccoli, cauliflower and rosemary for an autumn harvest, especially if you have larger, longer containers, or a community row to plant in.
- Tomatoes, lettuce, marigolds, basil and chives will thrive together and layer vibrant hues of yellow, orange, red and green – some are key ingredients for your next marinara!

BasilTomatoes

- Chamomile is known as a ‘garden doctor’ as it grows well with everything and often increases the yield of aromatic oils in herbs.
- Hang baskets of strawberries and beans overhead, on hooks or on a wall, or mix in some borage for maximum bee attraction, and your plants will bear lovely fruit.
- Looking for good all-purpose herbs that grow well near any other plant? Mint and oregano are incredibly prolific—corral them into their own individual pots, as they will spread.

Seek to attract pollinators
Not only will this increase your yield, but you’ll also be balancing the ecosystem. Bees, moths, butterflies and other helpful bugs will reduce the likelihood of unfriendly bugs taking up residence in your garden. Poppies, lavender, bee balm, catnip and heliotrope are not only attractive and hardy, they also smell terrific and will encourage pollinators to give you a buzz (or a flutter by!).Lavender

These are just small steps to getting your green thumb on. There are many books at your local bookstore that can help, too! Do your research, don’t be afraid to experiment, and you’ll be growing in no time.

Leigh Casbourne

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