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Step-By-Step Guide to Starting an Urban Garden

Step-By-Step Guide to Starting an Urban Garden

By Mike Lieberman, Networx

Are you looking to start an urban garden this spring and not sure where to start? I hear you on that. That’s exactly where I was back in the spring of 2009 when I first started urban gardening. I’m now a successful urban gardener in Los Angeles, and I’ll help you to grow your own food.

At the time, I was living in one of the least garden-friendly environments in the world – New York City. I barely had enough room for my bed, let alone a garden. After spending weeks researching and not coming up with anything at the library that spoke to me and my needs, I decided to just get started and figure it out.

I want to share what I’ve learned with you. This isn’t a magical formula that is going to allow you to grow 25 lbs of tomatoes or 300 cucumbers. It’s practical advice that will help you to utilize and maximize your limited space (not everyone is privileged to have flat roofing or a yard. Don’t worry! You’ll still be able to grow food in the city.)

Step One: Deciding On a Location for Your Urban Garden

There are plenty of options in and around your apartment for you have your garden. You just need to be creative with the space.

Some options include:

  • Fire escape
  • Balcony
  • Deck
  • Windowsill
  • In closets
  • Unused book shelves
  • Patio
  • Railings

Step Two: Determine the Amount of Sunlight that Hits Your Urban Garden Spot

This is a critical and often overlooked step that will help to ensure your success. It’s important to understand what is sun and what is shade when it comes to gardening.

For whatever reason when people talk about starting a garden, they immediately think about tomatoes. In order to grow most varieties of tomatoes, you’ll need at least 8 hours of direct sunlight. Most urban gardens are shaded not only by trees and nature, but by other things as well such as awnings, fences and other buildings.

If you only get 3 hours of sunlight, you’ll have to grow what does well in 3 hours of sunlight.

Step Three: Questions to Ask Yourself Before Planting an Urban Garden

Now that you have the space decided and figured out how much sunlight it gets, you’ll want to figure out what to grow. There are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself such as:

  • What do you eat most?
  • What makes the most financial sense?

Step Four: Buying Seeds for Your Urban Garden

There are a lot of seed companies out there. It’s hard to know the difference between all of them. You want to support a company that shares the same values as you do.

The next steps are choosing containers for your urban garden, starting seeds and planting the seeds. I’ll cover these in future posts. Check back, and ask me any questions you have in the comments. In my next post, I’ll walk you through building a self-watering container system.

Mike Lieberman is the publisher of Get ideas like this on

Read more: Food, Home, Lawns & Gardens, Nature,

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9:19AM PST on Jan 11, 2013

Thanks, re-shared!

12:26PM PDT on May 26, 2012

Thank you

4:31AM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

Nice to see your advice on Care2, Mike. While I do have a garden, I am supportive of getting information out to those who don't. Even in an apartment with just one north-facing window, growing food is a possibility, but most of the advice in books, mags and the Internet is completely worthless for people with just a window or two or a fire escape. Can't wait to see more of your tips. And for anyone who hasn't yet done so, have a look at Mike's website for more ideas.

12:58AM PDT on Mar 31, 2012

Thanks, but must check out that 'self-watering system' - that will be of great help!

3:01PM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

Mike thanks! Living in an apt. where the red-tailed hawks soar is a combination of either too much heat,rain or wind.
I successfully planted tomatoe seeds in a litter container and had amazing tomatoes... not sure what happened there ... maybe just 'lucked out' :)
Should be fun this summer !

10:07PM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

thnx for this

5:57PM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

thanks for shring these ideas

2:53PM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

Where is the step- by- step part? Plants need sunlight,okay, I think most folks know that.

2:41PM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

Thanks for the tips :)

6:36AM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

Going the try some of these tips this year. Thanks.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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