How to Create a Simple Urban Vegetable Garden

on January 24, 2019

Urban gardening and vertical gardening are super trendy right now. But how do you create an urban garden in the middle of nowhere with few resources and time? We’ve come across some of these issues with our “parking lot garden.” In this post we will walk you through our process step-by-step and discuss common issues and solutions. Let’s get started!

Spinach and cabbage growing in an urban garden

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

This is one of the most important decisions to make when planning your dream urban garden. The location of your garden matters. Two things come to mind – water and sunlight. You must have great access to both to have a successful garden. For maximum versatility, choose a location with full sun and running water. Also look for good drainage, if the area has a river running through it when it rains, it may not be a good place for your urban garden!

Our parking lot garden sits on top of a wooden deck, but it still gets a good amount of heat from the pavement. It’s not an issue where we are, but it may be something to avoid in areas like AZ and TX. You may also consider how windy your desired location is. Rooftop gardens can certainly be a little windy at times. Some people find that bringing a wood shed to the rooftop could help with that. That may not be a deal breaker for you, but it’s something to think about when planning out your garden. You could even take a look at some amish sheds instead. Many people are worried about not being able to find the perfect shed however there are so many to choose from. Make sure you do your research as there are plenty of sheds in VA, KY, TN, & OH.

When you’ve picked the perfect space to set up your garden, be sure to measure it so you know exactly what you’ll need to get. This is especially helpful when guesstimating yields and ordering supplies.

Spinach growing on a deck

PICK YOUR PLANTS

This is the fun part! Dream about how your space would look with different plants. What do you want to harvest from your garden? How will it change with the seasons? Gardening is incredibly creative and personal. Every garden is unique!

Many people utilizing urban gardens grow vegetables, strawberries and herbs. In some ways, urban gardens can become a community garden where fresh organic produce is shared. If that’s your vision, plan it out. What can you grow to share? Is there produce that is unavailable or too expensive to purchase in your area? Grow it!

Something to keep in mind is if you are planning to grow vegetables that require pollinators, you will probably need to plant some flowers to help attract bees to your garden. We’ve regretted not doing that in years past! Plus it’s always nice to have some flowers growing in the sea of green vegetable gardens.

When choosing plants, consider what your garden will look like in the winter months. It can be nice to have a rest every year from the garden, so if you do choose to overwinter some plants in your urban garden keep in mind that requires a time commitment.

Garden Support

GET SUPPORT

If you’re maintaining a small garden for you and your family, you may not need any additional help or funding to get your urban garden off to a great start. But if you are growing for a community or envision a large space for people to gather and volunteer, you’ll definitely want some support. Gardening should be enjoyable and fruitful, but if it demands too much time and investment you’ll get burned out. Even just partnering with a friend or utilizing little helpers after school can make all the difference.

Along those same lines, urban gardening is all about connections and re-purposing an urban space into something beneficial. Share your goals, harvest and mission with your neighbors. You’ll all be better for it!

Of course, support may also mean financial support. Urban vegetable gardens can be costly and having a group of people help contribute to those costs can be priceless. Write out all expected costs and plan ahead for what will happen in the garden if you take a vacation or can’t be in the garden for a week or two.

Rows of strawberry plants growing in GreenStalk Vertical Planters in a parking lot

SHOP FOR SUPPLIES

There’s many different routes you can take when deciding what to use in your urban garden. In some areas, you may be able to plant right in the soil. But for others, such as rooftop gardens, parking lot gardens, street landscaping and backyard gardens, it may not be possible – especially for growing organic produce. This is where growing vertically can be a real asset to your urban garden!

We love growing in the GreenStalk Vertical Planter and that’s what we use for our little parking lot garden. They are soil-based, so you can compost on-site and/or use high quality potting mix for your growing medium. We especially love that you can grow pretty much anything in the GreenStalk. You can alternate root vegetables with flowers with strawberries and create a full garden in just a couple of square feet. Not to mention that you can get higher yield in less space with GreenStalk Vertical Planters. They come with a 5 year warranty, so you know they are going to last for years to come.

Check out what yields we’ve gotten from our little GreenStalk parking lot garden in Knoxville, TN here.

Also consider fertilizers, insecticides, composts, soil amendments and standard garden equipment. We’ve found that you get what you pay for when it comes to garden equipment. Yeah, you can probably find a hose at the dollar store, but that’s not going to last long. For equipment you will use on a daily basis, look for quality. Hoses, pruners, scissors, water soluble fertilizer, plant markers, and garden gloves are useful no matter what kind of urban garden you create.

Variety of vegetables growing in a parking lot urban garden

GET PLANTING

The best part! Once you’ve got your budget, supplies and volunteers (if using), it’s time to get the garden started! Plan a day for friends, family and volunteers to spend in the garden getting it off to a great start. Always start with a freshly cleaned area – it makes all the difference. When everything is in its proper place, it makes it easy to work in your new urban garden. It’s also harder for equipment to get damaged when everything has a home.

After you get your garden started, post a photo to social media with the hashtag #UrbanGreenStalkGarden – we’d love to see what you’re growing!

GreenStalk GrowerHow to Create a Simple Urban Vegetable Garden

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