5 Tips to Begin Urban Gardening

When you think of toddler nutrition, you may not think of gardening. The two seem somewhat far apart. However, growing your fruits and vegetables takes the guess work out of where it came from. Also, it can save you money, in the long run, depending on what you decide to grow.

Something most people would not think about gardening and toddlers is the experience of growing up around gardens. I grew up on five acres land outside of Ashland, Oregon. My family had a huge garden, orchard, a few chickens, and even a bee hive. Growing up I spent my summers watering the gardens and helping my parents with harvesting fruits and vegetables. When I was a kid I didn’t really appreciate the experience of growing up with fresh, organic fruits and vegetable just outside my front door. As an adult, I have wanted to recreate that for myself and my husband. A year ago I began with some plants and a few herbs.

Since most of the plants are growing and still alive I decided to take on a bigger challenge: fruits and veggies! As I began to gather my supplies and research about gardening I realized my parents made gardening look easy and that they were a wealth of information. After a few phone calls, a trip to the local nursery, and some Google searches I came up with these questions as a starting point.

1)     What do I want to grow?
2)   Where am I going to grow?
3)   What supplies do I need?
4)   When can I start?

Below are my answers to these questions and some additional information.

What do I want to Grow?

First, I made a table with two columns and labeled them Favorites (veggies and fruits my household likes the most) and Often Unused (fruits and veggies that spoil before we get to them). I listed out my top four foods for each category to give me a starting point for what I would want to grow.

Favorites: Often unused:
Berries Tomatoes
Lettuce Herbs
Carrots Onions
Peppers Cucumbers

It makes sense to grow your favorite fruits and veggies, but you may be wondering why you would grow foods that often go unused. That’s simple. It will save you money. I cannot tell you how many times I have bought fresh herbs and watched them spoil in my fridge. And they are not cheap. Generally, fresh herbs range from 2 to 5 dollars for a bundle. If you have a herb garden then you can pick the amount you need.

This list is meant to help you sort out what you want to grow and start small if you have not grown a garden before. Maybe one or two plants until you feel confident. Also, remember some plants may need special attention, structures to support their growth, or space (i.e. corn, string beans, or squash).

Seeds

Where will you Grow?

This is a tricky one as it will really depend on the space you have, sunlight, and convenience. For me, I have a nice sunny spot outside my door where my plants are currently and I walk by it every day so I won’t forget to water or check on it. But you could use a balcony, window ledge, or even a fire escape. You may need to note the temperature, how much sun and when it is sunny in your location as this will also determine what you grow. 

What Supplies will you Need?

Here is a list of supplies you will need to start your own garden:

Planters:

I had no idea that I could use almost anything for a planter. You could go with traditional containers, which are made out of anything from plastic to wood and can range in price. My uncle told me about fabric pots, which can be found easily online and are pretty cheap. The cost of mine ranged from 5 to 10 dollars each.

Fabric Pot

Dirt:

I am going be straight with you… I know nothing about “good” or “bad” dirt. I walked into my local nursery and asked an employee for help. I let them know what I was growing and that I was growing plants outside. I ended up with Gardener & Bloome Potting Soil and opted for the organic option. 

Plants or Seeds:

I am doing a mix of seeds and plants. I bought a cilantro and tomato plant. I also purchased carrot, jalapeño,  and sweet peppers seeds. An onion I bought has sprouted so I am going to plant it and see what happens.

Also, to find organic seedlings it is best to visit your local nursery and check out what they have. 

If you buy a fruit or vegetable, you can save the seeds and plant them. This is an inexpensive option that is also fun to watch the plants grow! 

Tools

I purchased a gardening tool set that includes a trowel, cultivator, and transplanter. Not sure what the purpose of these tools are… And honestly, on a smaller scale, you can use your hands.

Gloves:

Gloves are optional and really up to you if you need or want them.

Access to Water:

This may be a hose or use a container and follow the directions on how much water each plant needs.

When Can I Start Planting?

Well, this really depends on where you live. Given that I live in Los Angeles I am lucky that I can grow plants without a risk of frost, snow, or freezing temperatures. To determine your planting zone, check out the chart from the Urban Farmer. 

Basically, according to your zone will determine when and what can grow in your area. This is particularly handy when looking at seed packets. A good thing to find out is the first and last days of frost each year as that will tell you when your growing season will begin and end.

Stay tuned for future Urban Gardening blogs including  DIY hanging lettuce basket, how to plant your veggies, and so much more!

Do you have a garden? Want to start one? Comment or post your answers to the above questions below.

Happy Gardening!

– Mrs. Know it All

I am a Nutritionist and Blogger who is not known for her plating of food or photo skills. I love to empower people to live the busy lives they have created, while being healthy, happy, and hopefully at their best every day.
Posted in DIY/How to, Gardening, Tips & Tricks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

6 Comments

  1. Thank you for the information. It was very helpful. I haven’t started my vegetable garden. basically I’ve been reading up on a bunch of gardening stuff and didn’t know where to start until I saw the list you made. I think making my own favorite and unused veggie list will help a lot. I have a fairly large backyard and think I might plant in pots and planters this season. Next season we’ll do the raised garden beds. I have a 9 month old that keeps me very busy and I’m afraid I won’t tend to the garden much. I haven’t had much luck with finding organic vegetable plants. Organic seeds are fairly easy to find but not plants. If appreciate any suggestions on where to find some.

    • Nancy, sorry for the delayed response! If you look above in the section “Plants and Seeds” I have updated the blog to add your suggestion. Home Depot had the widest selection in Los Angeles. Thanks for your question and support!

  2. Loved your blog….brought back good memories of the Lake House….one thing I remember is how you liked to walk in the gardens with me as well as Trinity when she was a toddler to catch ladybugs in her bug jar…and then release them at the end of our walk-a-bout….planting flowers is beneficial as well as it encourages the pollinators for higher yields and beauty!

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