Growing Pains: Facing The Challenges of Urban Gardening | Guest Post By: Bob Gorman

urban gardening


Growing numbers of people are becoming convinced of the importance of eating locally-
grown food. Considering that most of the world’s populations live in cities, it is no coincidence that interest in urban gardening is growing.

In cities around the world, people are becoming enamored with the idea that they can grow their own food, increase their food security and reduce the mileage their food is required to travel before it reaches their plates.

However, urban gardeners face many challenges:
● Growing space is limited.
● Water supplies are not always ideal or readily available.
● Soil can easily be contaminated by industrial pollutants or neighbors’ carelessness.

If you’re interested in growing your own urban garden, the following 6 ideas can help you overcome these challenges:

1. Master the Use of Vertical Gardening Techniques

If your idea of a garden involves sprawling rows of produce separated by vast expanses of bare earth, it’s time to rethink all that. In an urban environment, every inch of growing space counts. You can use vertical growing techniques to maximize space in your garden. Many crops such as pole beans, squash, peas, melons, and cucumbers grow well vertically. You can build trellises and use vertical space to take advantage of this space-saving opportunity.

shoe organizer
Vertical Gardening Example: Herbs can be grown vertically in a shoe organizer attached to a wall.

2. Conserve Water With a Drip Irrigation System

The Israelis are master urban gardeners. They’ve perfected the art of making the desert
come alive with edible vegetation, and the drip irrigation system is the top tool in their
toolbox for making that happen.

Whether or not you live in the desert, the drip irrigation system is worth mastering. If you want to grow a lot of food in a cost-effective manner, drip irrigation is a helpful technique that will conserve water and save you money in the process.

3. Avoid Watering Your Crops With Chemically-Treated City Water

Agricultural expert Charles H. Wilber recommends avoiding the use of chemically-treated city water for watering food crops. In his book called How to Grow World Record Tomatoes, he explains that chemicals in the water are designed to kill harmful microorganisms, but they also harm and kill the beneficial microorganisms in your soil. You need these microorganisms for your food crops to be healthy. Watering with city water will effectively ruin your soil in the long term, and that should be avoided at all costs. If city water is

If city water is your only easily available water source, there are a couple of solutions you should consider. The first is harvesting rain water if it is legal to do so in your area. The second is implementing a filtration system for filtering the city water that’s available to you.

4. Prioritize Crops That Can Handle Some Crowding

There are crops that get stressed at the first signs of overcrowding, and then there are crops that will bear productively even if you plant them a bit too close together.

For example, pole beans can handle being planted almost on top of each other without sacrificing much in the way of productivity.

urban gardening
Pole beans are ideal for an urban garden. (The Spruce)
A riverside urban garden|Photo Credit: Diamond Geezer, Flickr

5. Familiarize Yourself With Crop Varieties That Will Grow Well in Containers

There are many shallow-rooted crops such as herbs, blueberries, and strawberries that can flourish in containers. Planting these can maximize your growing space significantly. You can place pots filled with food crops on kitchen countertops, in window boxes, and on porches. This solution is also ideal for helping your plants to avoid soil contamination from neighboring sources outside your control.

container gardening stack a pots
Stack A Pots Container Gardening System

6. Prioritize Crops With Quick Planting-to-Harvest Turnaround Times

There are radish and pak choi varieties that are ready for harvesting within about a month of germination. Plant these instead of vegetables that take 2-3 months to mature, and you’ll be able to harvest 2-3 times more food from the same amount of growing space.

urban gardening
Radishes mature for harvest in just one month. |Photo Credit: Seattle Urban Farm Co.

These 6 suggestions will give you workable ideas for overcoming the most common
challenges presented to gardeners who want to grow food crops in an urban environment. Implementing these suggestions will help you be more successful at growing food even if your garden space is extremely limited.

Guest Post Author Bio: Bob Gorman is a freelance writer from Melbourne, who likes writing articles that cover environment and sustainability related topics. He has written numerous articles and contributed to several other blogs. When he is not writing, he enjoys spending time on the beach with his family.


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