5 Ways To Kick-Start Your Own Urban Vegetable Garden

When I woke up this morning, it was a scant 12 degrees outside. And my city was one of the warmest in the state! If you’re feeling the wintertime blues, planning a garden can be a great way to remind yourself that warmer weather really is on the way.

But what if you don’t have a huge yard that can be turned over for planting, or what if you’re a renter and your landlord prefers grass to edible greens? Don’t fret, your dreams to be an urban gardener don’t depend on acres of land or decades of farming knowledge.

All you need (as any farmer would tell you) are the right tools and a little bit of patience. Ok, you need a little bit of space too, but not nearly as much as you think.

For this post, we’ve gathered up five of the most useful products to help kick-start your urban gardening efforts. These products are versatile and can be used indoors, on a porch or balcony, or to start seedlings while you wait for the ground to thaw. They range from simple and affordable, to more complex and pricey, but all are made by awesome companies that want to see you eating healthy food you’ve grown yourself.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, so as always, please share your recommendations for other grow-your-own products in the comments!

1. Grow Pillow

Grow Pillow Garden

The Grow Pillow is a new alternative to container gardening. Its flexible design creates a portable urban garden in the smallest outdoor space, or a productive vegetable and herb garden on any sunny surface. Grow Pillow replaces the expense of plastic and ceramic containers and the bulky rigid frame structure of raised beds with a natural burlap pillow. It allows you to create an organic garden for the family without digging or lugging heavy bags of soil! Watch a video of the Grow Pillow in action, here.

Update: Several Care2 members expressed concern that Grow Pillow includes a plastic bag in the activation kit. I forwarded those concerns to Bill Servick of GrowPillow, and wanted to share his response:

“The disposable mixing bag is included in the kit. Asking customers to find and use an existing/reusable container to expand the coir, mix the ingredients and fill the bag takes the “everything included” aspect away from the product. The mixing bag does not stay in the Pillow, so the activated Pillow is 100% organic – and the bag uses considerably less plastic than a traditional plastic garden pot. I wish we had less plastic involved, but it’s a compromise we had to make in order to bring the product to market. We did deliver our primary goal of offering a 100% organic growing environment! Seems there is always some trade-off.”

>>Up Next: Window Farms

2. Window Farms


Crowdsourcing has become a powerful tool for entrepreneurs who want to raise money as well as those who want to solving problems. Tired of the limited healthy food choices in urban neighborhoods, artist and technologist Britta Riley used the minds and windows of her friends to crowdsource a solution. Using waterbottles and sunlight, Riley and her friends quickly developed Windowfarms: an indoor, hydroponic farming solution for urban dwellers. You can buy a pre-built Windowfarms system or follow the free directions for building your own.

>>Up Next: Wooley Pockets

3. Wooley Pockets

Woolly Pocket Vertical Garden

Like the idea of a vertical garden like Windowfarms, but don’t have the indoor window space? Woolly Pockets could be the answer. Made in the USA from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles, Woolly Pockets are a great space saving method to grow indoors or outdoors. Even better, Woolly Pockets can be formulated to hang on walls, over a mantel, off of a fence, on the side of a shed, or over a windowsill!

>>Up Next: Hydroponic Herbs

4. Hyroponic Herbs

Grow Bottle HerbsIf you’ve tried to grow plants indoors before, and always ended up with a brittle stick or a waterlogged pot of mold, GrowBottle is the perfect system to help restore your confidence. Although it’s very aesthetically pleasing, the GrowBottle system is very low-tech: it uses a wicking mechanism rather than a mechanical pump, and it made from reclaimed wine bottles. But simple doesn’t mean a lack of variety. As Crisp Green writes, “each GrowBottle set comes with a hand-crafted recycled wine bottle, soil, USDA certified organic/heirloom seeds, clay pebbles, wool wick, plant nutrient, cork coaster, and a decorative ribbon made from recycled plastic bottles. The GrowBottle is reusable and is available in five different herb varieties: oregano, chives, basil, parsley and mint.”

>>Up Next: Mushrooms In A Box

5. Mushrooms In A Box

Back to the Roots Mushroom kit

This is as simple as it gets. Back to the Roots offers an effortless grow-at-home mushroom kit that will allow you to grow up to 1 1/2 lbs of gourmet, tasty oyster mushrooms in less than a month…right in the box! The same box can be used to grow at least two crops (though some have been able to grow up to four!) and the soil inside is made from 100 percent recycled coffee grounds. (Bonus! If you post a picture of your mushroom kit in action to the Back to the Roots Facebook page, they’ll donate a second kit to the school classroom of your choice!)

Do you have other suggestions of easy grow kits that can be used inside and out? Please share the name (and a link!) in the comments!

Related Reading:

Urban Businesses Cater To Growing Crop Of City Farmers

Reinstating Local Food, Local Rules

From Small Seeds, Urban Farms Grow

Green Your Balcony With A Beautiful Pallet Garden

Image Credit: Flickr - EvelynGiggles

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Edvanir L.
Edvanir L.2 years ago

At this spring I'm going to try it. Let see what's gonna happen.

Shanti S.
S S.2 years ago

Thank you.

Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay Kemp3 years ago

Lovely - thanks for this info

Kimberly Simms
Kimberly S.3 years ago

Interesting stuff! I think I'm going to get one or two of those mushroom boxes. Yum!

Turid K.
Past Member 3 years ago


Lots and lots of good ideas here.

Nellie P.
Nellie P.3 years ago

The mushroom box is awesome! They're all great ideas, but I want the mushrooms.

David N.
David N.3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Anton K.
Past Member 3 years ago

Good article, thank you.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

YES, great piece!

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

I'd like to try the Woolly Pockets. I like the facts that they are made in the USA from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.