Sustainable Gardens–Ideas for Urban Gardeners


Even blueberries can be grown in a small space like a patio.

How We Can Create Sustainable Gardens

Yearning to grow your own food or even start a farm but you’re stuck in the city? It might just be possible, thanks to people who think outside of the farm and inside the planting box–or planting spiral. That’s right. I said spiral. And that’s not all. It seems the sky’s literally the limit when it comes to growing food no matter where you live.

Urban gardening and even farming is a trend that seems to have no limits. Meet someone who not only grows her greens, but raises goats for meat in the city.

The set up doesn’t look very pretty. I personally like a farm or garden to have aesthetic appeal, not just practical applications. But this lady looks happy and she shares with her neighbors. She’s modeling sustainable living for the rest of us. We can fashion our own experiences a bit differently if we care to. I think her courage to be different is commendable.

Vertical Gardening

So what do you do when you have no horizontal place to lay out your garden? Go up of course. Vertical gardens take on many forms. There’s the simple tee-pee for allowing peas to climb up–a set of three or four tomato stakes tied together at the top with peas planted around the base.

You can create vertical frames with wood lattice or tomato netting and train many types of plants to climb upwards. Some examples include tomatoes, squash, peas, and yard-long beans. Even heavier squash or gourds can be grown this way. As the fruit becomes heavier the stem grows thicker. Some gardeners help the plant hold the fruit by slipping an old pantyhose leg over it and tying it.

If all you have is a patio, you can still take advantage of vertical growing to make good use of the space you have. Try planting peas or climbing beans in a container. Tie strings from the planter up toward the house–or attach a couple of poles on the edge of the patio to attach the strings to. Train the plant onto the strings. This can become an artistic display or even a privacy screen as well as a supply of food.

Some Innovative Sustainable Garden Ideas

Some of these examples are farms, but they give much food for thought for gardeners looking to become more sustainable in their practices.

  • Whirligro is a UK based company that sells spiral growing tubes. It can be combined with a drip irrigation system, or it can simply be watered by hand. Even if you aren’t in the market for an innovative vertical growing system, it’s worth looking at the pictures.
  • Check out someone’s big idea about farming in New York City and cities around the world. It’s an elaborate idea that might be compared to greenhouses stacked on top of each other with windmills at the top. Vertical Farming Big Idea. This big idea would not only create innovative urban farming practices, but would also create jobs.
  • If you live near a glacier and have to live with a short growing season, plus compete with bears and other critters, don’t despair. You can try the clever idea Suzzane Forsling came up with at an Agricultural Extension Service workshop. She used extra rain gutters as gardens and attached them to her home. You can get help from your extension service agent too.
  • This next one isn’t just a big idea. It’s a reality. A rooftop farm in Brooklyn. I’m not talking just a small garden plot. This is a thriving farm. There’s a science to creating a rooftop garden or farm. Layers of material form a barrier between roots and roof. Rooftop gardens or farms create ecosystems within the city. Plants produce oxygen. The rooftop greenery has a cooling and insulating effect on the building. It creates a source of locally grown food–a rare find in a large city. Local chefs are thrilled to have access to fresh food on a daily basis.
  • If you don’t have a yard, or patio, and you don’t have a roof to work with, don’t despair. You could create a truck farm. Check back here soon for a review of the film.
  • Four Season Gardening is an answer to gardeners in northern areas. Check it out if you’re interested in growing food year round even with snow on the ground.
  • Whatever type of garden  you decide to create, don’t forget to take good care of your soil. Whether you have a plot in your backyard or carry bags of soil onto your patio, it isn’t just fertilizer that feeds your plants. For a few cents per plant, you can infuse your soil with live microbial helpers (mycorrhizae) that will keep on giving. It’s such a no-brainer I wonder how I ever did without them! It’s the only soil amendment that replicates itself. There’s a summer sale on these now too, so it’s a good time to try it out.

About Christiane Marshall

Christiane Marshall is a freelance writer/copywriter and special education teacher living on 173 acres in Southeast Ohio. She is a minister's wife, mother of five grown children and a grandmother of one new baby girl. Christiane specializes in copywriting but also enjoys writing articles on many subjects including organic gardening, education, special education and advocacy, faith, travel, and animal rescue.
This entry was posted in Gardening for Beginners, Gardening in Small Spaces, Organic Gardening, Urban Farming, Urban Gardening and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Sustainable Gardens–Ideas for Urban Gardeners

  1. Great blog! I am going to have to check out some of these links you provided. They sound very interesting. Thanks!

  2. We can continue this advocacy towards a better environment. I am very glad for these facts you have shared us.

  3. Wonderful blog! Very helpful! I will incorporate what I learned here in my own garden. Hope it will also works for me.