City life is a hodgepodge of cultures, cuisines, social life, diverse opinions…there is just no end! What it lacks, however, is space to allow nature to flourish in the ever expanding urban landscape.
It might seem like nurturing plants in a busy city is an impossible task, but the truth is, all you need is a little bit of time and the desire to maintain a garden. It’s quite easy, since natural minerals, sunlight, plants and fresh air are available in abundance and at low cost.
Before you grow your own garden, ask yourself this – what is the purpose of this exercise? Is it just a new hobby that you’re interested in, or are you doing it to reduce your carbon footprint?
If it is a hobby, you can start by growing plants that require less sunlight and maintenance.
If you take up gardening to grow your own food, that comes with its own advantages as well. It gives you instant access to fresh produce, so you’re not forced to visit the grocery store every time you want a few vegetables. You can save time, and money on gasoline. Depending on the type of vegetables you plant, you’ll also save on food costs. Not to forget, watching your garden go from bare soil to full-grown plants gives you a unique sense of satisfaction.
Whether you have a balcony, a patio, or just a small sunny window, take advantage of any opportunity. Creating an eco friendly apartment is about going back to basics. Here’s where you can begin.
Plants like philodendron easily adapt to low-light conditions, and come in both vine and shrub varieties. A quick tip for any gardener is that the soil must be kept moist but not wet. Similarly, peperomia is a small, striking and adorable houseplant that doesn’t take up much space. Due to its thick foliage, it is often mistaken for a succulent.
Some other options for a first time planter include tomatoes and salad greens. Tomatoes can flourish in a garden or a small pot but they need a lot of sunlight. Salad greens such as kale can also be grown in a small pot.
If you’re conscious of your carbon footprint, you can reuse old containers or a flat tire to grow your favourite vegetables and greens. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants, and it sucks up four times more carbon dioxide than trees. Of course, bamboo plants will eventually require quite a bit of space.
Use quality soil.
Your first batch of soil needs to be of high quality. You can then reuse it for years. If you are not sure about the type of soil to use, you can seek advice from your local nursery. While soil quality takes prime importance, nutrients and fertilizers also determine how well your plants thrive.
Would you be surprised to know that you could have a vermicompost in your kitchen? This not only fertilizes your plants but is another great solution to decrease your carbon footprint. Dump all your kitchen waste in the vermicompost without mixing any non recyclables in. It’s easy, and when done right it, doesn’t smell or draw rodents.
This way, you can create the right mix of nutrients for your plants at home, while preventing the formation of methane in landfills. (This greenhouse gas is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.)
Do your research
Learn about plants before you buy them. You don’t want to buy any fruit or vegetable until you are sure they work for you. In general, most plants will need a grow light, a pot that allows for drainage and potting soil. Some may also need a humidity tent if the air in your home is dry.
Ginger is a remarkably easy plant to grow from scraps, and can be planted just the way you found it at the grocery store. Try to look for a piece that has sprouts already. If you have trouble sprouting scraps, transferring small plants from your local nursery to your home garden is the way to go.
Go the herb route
Herbs are a great place to start for beginners, because they are generally grown in a window box using natural sunlight. Oregano, basil, parsley, cilantro, and spinach will do well planted in any soil and left near a window. If you don’t have a window that gets enough light, you could invest in an indoor growing light.
You might be tempted to rearrange your plants, but know that plants like to stay put. Once you have found the right place for a plant in terms of sunlight, let it be. Also find out how much water your plants require and prepare a watering schedule accordingly.
You don’t need to have an exceptional green thumb to give your plants a happy home. With some research and water, your plants can thrive well.
Some find this activity relaxing and stress-relieving, while others believe it will provide overall mental health benefits. Caring for plants can also be a good family activity. Additionally, if you have neighbors who also garden, you can turn it into a community activity!