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Tips for Sprouting an Urban Garden

Updated on June 22, 2008

Fruits, vegetables and herbs are fun to prepare, fresh food items that are essential to a healthy diet. However, at times like these when rising oil costs are driving up the price of all basic grocery items, you may consider raising your own supply of fresh produce right from home. Many of us don't have a lot of space or access to a garden to do true planting, but with a few tips and tricks gardening can be done using a few containers stored on the windowsill of an average sized apartment.

To start, you'll need to do some planning and considerations for what plants you'd like to grow. Great starter plants include garlic, tomato, onion and herbs. Carrots are excellent home grown vegetables as well, but they do require lots of beneath ground space, thus you would need to grow them in deep containers.

Large clay pots make the best containers for an urban garden, because they hold moisture well. You should plant your seeds in a rich garden soil for in-container plants, or an organic potting mix. Either way, your soil should be able to sustain vegetables and contain plant food to help nurture your seeds.

Sunshine is key to raising good plants. If you don't have a balcony or ample space outdoors to place your plants, be sure to find a windowsill or other spot where your garden can receive at least four hours of sunlight per day. Be careful to choose your spot wisely-as the sun rises and moves throughout the day, a spot that appears sunny at the beginning of the day may be covered in shade less than two hours later. In urban settings especially, the sun tends to creep behind buildings during the day.

Because you're confined with horizontal space, you will need to compensate by offering plenty of vertical space for your plants to grow. Purchase stakes and gardening wire for your plants so that they may continue to grow upward. Once your vegetables have sprouted, make sure to pick them regularly. A plant will stop producing if the crop is not picked when ready. Keep this in mind for vacations or long absences.

You should do research about the specific produce you're planning on raising to figure out how to care for it best. For example, corn can be grown from a pot with the correct amount of attention and gardening, but will die under freezing or cool conditions. Tomatoes can be picked early and ripened in a crisper to make way for new ones faster, thus making your harvesting more efficient. Be sure you know your plants to care for them best.

Lastly, be sure to enjoy your garden as a release, a fun hobby, and a smart way to save on your grocery bill. Gardening can be a chore, but with patience and persistent care it can be fun and aid you in leading a healthy lifestyle.

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