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Tips for the Urban Gardener

Gardening has peaked many people’s interests for it’s benefit in affordability, reducing our carbon footprint, and many find it relaxing. But for those that live in condos or secondary suites, gardening may come as more of a challenge. Fear not city dwellers, we have some tips on how you too can find the satisfaction of growing your own produce.

Balcony Gardens
1. Maximize your space: Use shelves and hanging pots to create your garden oasis. You can also utilize the rail by building herb and vegetable boxes.
2. Prunes & stakes: If you are on the 20th floor, you may encounter strong winds. To avoid your plants from being blown away, prune them on a regular basis to keep them low or use stakes to keep them grounded. You could also put up a bamboo wall to protect them from the wind.
3. Use potting mix soil: Potting mix is the best for balcony gardens as it holds the moisture better and allows for air to flow through the plants.
4. Best produce for balcony gardens: Depending on which way you face, most vegetables and herbs will grow on a balcony. Tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and leafy greens are all low maintenance, and herbs like rosemary, thyme, dill, and mint grow in these conditions.

Basement Suites
1. Community Gardens: Community gardens are likely your best bet if you live in a basement suite and want a garden. There are plenty of community gardens throughout the city where you get a chunk of the garden and can grow anything you want. http://calgaryarea.com/index.php?p=organic&c=community_gardens has all the community gardens listed.
2. Basements are a Basil plant’s graveyard: Unless you have a large window that gets ample light, most plants are not going to survive in your basement home. You can of course invest in a hydroponic kit to create your garden in your basement home, but it requires certain lights, temperatures and feeding, not to mention a couple hundred dollars.
3. Best produce for a basement: Mushrooms love dark, moist areas. There are many at home mushroom growing kits you can use to grow your own.

Small Backyards
1. Build your own garden bed: If you rent and are aren’t allowed to create a permanent garden, garden boxes allow you to take advantage of a temporary garden setup.
2. Upcycle: You can find a variety of sizes of gardening pots at any second hand store. You can fit several different types of herbs into one large pot, or one vegetable into a smaller pot. You can also upcycle various different kinds of containers to find the best size that suits your space, just remember that you’ll need drainage so you may need to drill a few holes in the bottom for water to escape.
3. Invest in a rain barrel: Green Calgary hosts their rain barrel sales every year where you can get a rain barrel to collect rain water and reuse it to feed your plants. For more information on their rain barrels, visit http://www.greencalgary.org/ecostore/rain-barrels-composters/
4. Best produce for the backyard: Pretty much any fruit, vegetables or herbs as long as the container is big enough and you space it out enough!

What is Sustainable Farming?

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