Urban gardening

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photo by Chuttersnap- unsplash.com


With the growth of cities and expansion of towns, growing plants in these areas can help improve the environment & air pollution.

People living in an urban environment can also benefit from growing and caring for plants, flowers and also vegetables, they not only provide beauty to the surroundings with colourful, fragrant flowers and herbs but they can also improve the air quality, reduce pollution or block unwanted views or noise as well as getting better connected with nature, reducing stress and improving mental health.

There are many ways that you can grow plants in an urban setting, whether you have a small balcony, limited garden space, a roof garden, pots and containers around the house, an apartment or if you grow plants indoors.
Growing plants in containers is ideal if you have limited space in your garden, or if you have a small patio area or balcony. Containers can be placed on steps, outside a doorway or in the corners of a balcony or patio to make room for a sitting out area for relaxation. Edible scented leaf pelargoniums can be grown in containers preferably in a sunny area within easy reach so you can add them to food and beverages as well as growing herbs, vegetables such as lettuce, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, parsley and editable flowers such as nasturtiums and violets.

Trellises can create a more private area on your balcony, patio area or roof garden which can be easily attached to the wall where you can grow climbing plants with lovely fragrant flowers such as roses, honey suckle, passionflower, jasmine or simple runner beans. Vertical crates can also be used as an alternative to trellis or for something more elegant balcony flower planters with trellis attached which can also be purchased online or in garden centres.

Hanging baskets are great not only for balconies & patio areas but also if you live in an apartment without a garden or balcony, you can simply attach them to the wall outside your window or door way, on the walls of your balcony or on railings, with plants such as pelargoniums, colourful flowering blooms or vegetables & herbs. Vertical gardening also works well by fixing containers to the wall or growing plants onto the wall itself using a special frame.
If you have a flat roof you could consider creating a roof garden, by using light weight containers and soil. Fixing trellis to areas of the roof can help reduce wind gusts and also protect your plants, but you will also need to add a water system to water them regularly.

Growing plants on the balcony or patio

Balconies and patios are ideal for urban living by getting you more involved with growing and caring for plants, gaining a feel for nature and the outdoors, while providing a private area for relaxation or pleasant views. Depending on the number of hours of sun you have during the day can determine the type of plants that would be ideal for your balcony or patio. If you have hot sun most of the day you could consider growing more succulents, herbs or exotic plants, or if you have a busy life you could try self watering pots, hydroponics or by adding more shade to your balcony or patio with trellis, bamboo shading, shade cloth or retractable awning. For balconies and patios with shade part of the day you could consider plants like morning glory, marigold, pansies, chrysanthemums, verbena, fuchsia, ferns, fruits and vegetables or various types of pelargoniums such as P. tomentosum, P. denticulatum and P. quinquelobatum.
Plants require about 12 to 16 hours of sun light per day, so if you have low light on your balcony you could try using artificial lighting such as lamps or led lights to improve growth and the overall health of the plant.
If you have mostly pot plants it is recommend to use good quality soil which is rich in nutrients for healthy growth and longevity in small containers and also the use of Fertilizer.
Shrub like plants may take up more room unless it is cut back frequently or if it is kept like a standard or a bonsai, so small or tall upright plants may be a better opinion for providing extra space on your balcony for other plants or furniture. There are many ways to brighten up the look of your balcony or patio, no matter what the size, Adding rugs, cushions and folding tables and/or chairs can give a homely feel, as well as making it easy to store them away quickly when you need the space. Lighting is great for the evening and night time, there are various types that are ideal for balconies which include string lights and bulb string, Led string lights, paper lanterns or lamps.
Adding hanging baskets or containers to the walls of your balcony or patio is another way of bringing more plants without taking up too much space, as long as they drainage holes at the base. A few plants which are ideal for hanging baskets on a balcony include tangled heart vine, dwarf morning glories (evoluvlus), sword fern, devils ivy, dwarf jade plant(portulacaria afra) and inch plant Tradescantia zebina

Roof gardens

Many cities around the world are now thinking up new ways to go green, by growing organic vegetables, creating a meadow of flowers or a garden with grass and trees and plants on rooftops, such as the Brooklyn Grange in New York which has the largest roof farms in the world, and grows a large number of their own produce, including organic vegetables such as leaf greens, salad mixes, rocket, radishes, turnips kale and chard, fruits, edible flowers and fragrant herbs & selling them to communities in the city, which are grown naturally while supporting the ecosystems and also have around 20 beehives on the roofs around the city.
Roof gardens are not only great for providing you with fresh vegetables and fruits, flowers and herbs which you can enjoy at home, but also the benefits of reducing the amount of heat which is built up round the city caused mostly by concrete buildings, roads & pathways which absorbs the heat of the sun and increases the temperature, as well as car engines and air conditioning units. Plants can not reach a surface temperature higher than 5 c , it absorbs water from the roots which moves throughout the plant known as transpiration, so growing more plants around the city will help reduce the temperature and also reduce smog and pollution which can lead to respiratory problems.
There are a few different urban methods which are used on roof gardens these include hydroponics when plants are grown without the use of soil but in a mineral and nutrient enriched water at the roots which is pumped and moves around in pots, tanks or tubs or plastic hydroponic reservoirs. Aeroponics is when plants are grown without the use of soil in an enclosed space by spaying the roots with air or mist which contains nutrients often by using a Aeroponic plant support device. Green roof is a living vegetation such as moss, grass, perennials, herbs or shrubs which grows on top of a roof or building by using layers of waterproof membrane, filter, drainage and a growing medium.

Containers are probably the most easiest and most affordable for growing plants on roofs, such as pots, tubs, barrels or hanging baskets which are especially good if you have limited space, light weight pots such as plastic is recommended, so not too much weight is on your roof top (unless you have strong winds), as plants will become heavier as they grow and it is advisable to make sure your roof is strong enough if you wish to place many pots on your roof. You will also need good access to a water hose, electricity for lighting and to think about how you will get plants and other items up on to the roof. A water butt could be used with a hose attachment or drip irrigation. Trellis, hedging, screens or fencing maybe good for reducing wind or hot sun on the roof top.
Low growing trees, shrubs, herbs and vegetables can grow well on roof tops but If you have hot sun most of the day on your roof it maybe best to get drought tolerant plants.
Raised beds is another alternative, when the soil has been raised in a container such as a frame or box, this can improve the soil quality especially when mixed with organic matter such as from a compost bin, the soil will also provide better drainage but may need more water during the summer, although because of its small size watering shouldn’t be much of a problem, drip irrigation is also a good and easy way to water them. Raised beds are fairly simple to make by creating a frame which can be made out of wood, stone, brick and in any style you require whether you like a modern, traditional or rustic feel.
Outdoor dinning & relaxing furniture, pergolas or even a shed can also improve the overall look of your roof garden.

partly from the July newsletter

more info at http://www.pelargoniumspeciesworld.com