Starting An Organic Garden In The Urban Jungle

ny urban vegetable gardening for beginners

New York City is the most iconic city in the world. It summons to the mind images of Times Square, Broadway and the Statue of Liberty, not organic gardens. Yet, organic gardens and urban farming projects are becoming increasingly popular in the urban jungle of New York City.

Gardening And Farming Communities Around

There are many gardening and farming communities that you can connect with to learn more about efficient urban gardening and find places to shop for produce and farm fresh goods from fellow gardeners. Here are some of them:

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm

This is a 6000-foot organic garden that sells it produce to local restaurants while maintaining a seasonal farmer's market for anyone looking for organic produce at country prices.

Hell's Kitchen Farm Project

The project helps serve the community through proper nutrition. If you are new to urban gardening and want a hands-on approach to learning how to start your own garden consider volunteering with Hell's Kitchen Farm Project every Tuesday for Open Farm or the first Saturday of each month.

La Finca Del Sur

If you're ready to get started with your own patch of green growing land, consider getting in touch with La Finca Del Sur. this is a non-profit organization in the South Bronx dedicated to helping minority women through food sustainability. Help out volunteering on the farm or you can rent your own bed and build your own garden.

Tips To Start Your Own Garden

If you're ready to get started on your own garden, here are a few tips.

1. Consider Your Circumstances

Some questions to ask yourself are:

●       How much space do you have?

●       How much time can you commit to a garden?

●       Are you going to plant a large volume of food and need to rent a bed on a rooftop?

●       Does your building allow you with roof access?

●       Do you have a balcony?

●       How much of an investment are you putting into your garden?

2. Starting A Herb Garden

A convenient herb garden is a good place to begin. If you like to cook with fresh produce, then behold the beauty and aroma of fresh rosemary in your omelets. Basil, thyme, oregano, dill, chives, small, chili peppers are all easy to grow if you have a large window with a lot of light. Hang the dangling herbs to save space.

For example, if you grow basil, know that it helps clear up the air in your home and can easily be grown in a container on a balcony or in a sunny window. You'll need seeds or baby plants for the basil. Basil can be pinched off of a living plant. Cut basil that hasn't flowered about four inches long and place in water. Roots will develop within a week. Transplant directly to the container or plot of rooftop garden.

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3. Know More About The Soil To Use

Your soil is crucial. Make sure it's augmented with compost. Compost is a great way to reduce your household waste, helps the environment, and provides nutrients to your garden. You can learn more here.

High quality, organic soil is necessary. Soil is divided into many varieties but most can be broken down to clay, sand, silt, and loam. Good soil is a mix of clay, sand, and silt. If you're going to be a productive gardener, you'll need to know the pH of your soil and they type of pH needed for your plants.

pH is a scale that measures alkaline and acidity from one (very acidic) to seven(neutral) and finishing at 14 (very alkaline). Climates with heavy rainfall tend to have acidic earth while dry areas are more prone to alkaline soil.

An accurate pH measure of your soil will tell you how well your plants are going to grow. Invest in a garden pH kit instead of the cheaper more inaccurate ones. Or save your money and use the 'Ribbon Test' by putting a sample and running your hands through it back and forth. If it sticks then the soil is more clay, if it doesn't then it's more sand based soil. Basil, tomatoes, and chrysanthemums all grow best at an almost neutral leaning to a more acidic pH (6.8 on the scale).

Clay soils don't drain easily and the roots struggle to take root. Most gardeners believe an even mix of both make these better potting soil. Adding compost and organic material will help your plants flourish.

4. Which Plants Grow Well Together?

Plant similar plants together. For example, chamomile, oregano, or peppers nearby the basil, chrysanthemums, and tomatoes to make the best of your space.

Stack plants that bloom at variant seasons on top of each other in drainable containers (there should be small holes in the bottom of the containers). You'll need to read about your individual crops and discover how much water, food, and fertilizer they require daily, weekly or once a month. Tomatoes will need to be fertilized at least once a month or every two weeks until it comes into fruit.

5. General Maintenance

Is your balcony strong enough for the full weight of your planned garden? If the balcony is solid enough for the extra weight, the floor should be covered with a filter material. Add a surface spreading of gravel allowing plants a shallow layer of gravel enabling them to naturalize.

Know how the light moves through your space throughout the day. Move the sun seekers with fellow plants, and shyer plants together as well.

Grouping your plant containers makes it a lot simpler to water your plants. Most of your plants will dry and require watering daily. When it's really hot and the soil gets drier, water the plants twice a day. Learn more about what you are growing and know how much water your plants require on average.

6. Garden Pests

If you notice that you have pests in your garden accept that it is part of the ecosystem and consider yourself a haven for some squirrels. Beware of aphids. If you notice bugs in your garden, start by pruning away any dead material including what may have dropped in the soil.

Make a solution of white wine vinegar, two or three drops of dishwashing detergent and a gallon of water into a spray bottle. Use the solution to water your plants until the bugs are dead. Make sure you're not over-watering and that the plants are draining well to ensure they don't get root rot. Invest in plants like chrysanthemums that bring pollinators to your garden. Attract bees and butterflies to further develop the ecosystem.

Balcony And Rooftop Garden Varieties

Finally, know that herbs like basil are a great place to start with potted plants. Berries can be easier than you think to grow. Strawberries, blueberries, and currants are popular among balcony and rooftop gardens. String beans and other vines are perfect for a tight amount of space because they are excellent climbers. With these tips, you can be well on your way to starting your urban garden.


Author Bio: Laurence Banville. Esq is the managing partner and face of The Product Lawyers. Laurence is licensed to practice law in the state of New York. Originally from Ireland, Banville moved to the United States of America where he worked at law firms, refining his litigation and brief writing crafts. He is also the recipient of the Irish Legal 100 and the Top 40 Under 40 awards. 

Photo Credit: Caroline Attwood

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