Urban Gardening Made Easy

Written by Melissa Stewart, Assistant Program Director, Community & Agricultural Resource Development, williaml@wvstateu.edu

Many consumers in the Charleston area remain skeptical of the safety of the food that lines the supermarket shelves and the water that comes from the tap. Therefore, the time is right to take steps toward empowering residents of our state to become more self-reliant. Something as simple as growing your own food can be liberating. Knowing exactly where your food comes from and how it has been handled can help to ease your mind, especially when hearing the produce recalls that appear in the media all too often.

Container gardening can provide the flexibility needed to plant exactly what you want, where you want, as long as sunlight is sufficient in your chosen area. Depending upon your setup, you can easily plant a pot of tomatoes directly off of the kitchen stoop. And if space allows, your container gardening setup can continually expand. Simply add a whole new container to the mix and keep right on producing.

So, what should you consider planting in containers this year now that the winter thaw has finally started happening? The possibilities are endless. Over the past couple of years, local lawn and garden retailers have begun to take notice of the “urban gardening” movement. Knowing that most people in urban areas are limited on space, retailers have started to offer container crop varieties such as cherry and mid-sized tomatoes, as well as cucumbers and peppers. If your space and time are limiting factors to your gardening, these plants are perfect to help you transition into a more compact way of growing while still reaping all the benefits of a traditional garden.

Do you have children? Containers are very kid-friendly. One idea is to work with the kids to develop themed container gardens. A salad garden or a pizza garden can be planted and then harvested to prepare a meal, or the theme could correlate back to a favorite children’s book. The sky is the limit. Kids become engaged and begin to take ownership of taking care of the plants. A container is the perfect way for a child to begin to learn about basic plant needs such as water and sunlight.

Finally, container gardens work well for persons of varying abilities. If gardening in the ground is no longer an option and the construction of raised beds is too costly, container gardens may be a wonderful alternative. These gardens can be placed at any height to reduce the amount of stooping or bending required for care or harvest. Containers rarely need to be weeded, especially when they are placed on a concrete or paved surface where weeds are far away. If on a solid surface, they can be placed on casters so they are easy to move around, making them even simpler to access for harvesting.

To read the full article, click here.

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