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The Appetizer: The Official Blog of DiningIn

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Maintaining A Garden In The City


The cities that DiningIn operates in all have one commonality between them (besides the fact that they’re lucky enough to have us established there): For the most part, there is not enough substantial room to grow a garden anywhere. Even though there may be public gardens where citizens can creatively collaborate in enhancing nature’s beauty within each city, rarely do you have enough land to be able to stretch out and grow some veggies in the ground of your very own backyard.

So I figured that, being the person who’s maintained and harvested several outdoor gardens within the big little city of Boston, I’d teach y’all some tips and tricks if you want to grow your own vegetables and refer to yourself as mildly self-sustainable!

Urban Gardening

Choose A Spot With A Substantial Amount Of Sunlight

Most fruits and vegetables need more than six hours of direct sunlight per day in a warm climate in order to grow properly.

In order to evaluate whether or not your home or apartment is a residence capable of growing an outdoor vegetable garden, you must take the time to see how much direct sunlight the ideal spot for your garden gets per day. When evaluating this, be sure to choose a day where there are no clouds so that you are able to measure the approximate maximum amount of time the sun will be out.

Fertilizer Is A Necessity

There’s no getting around the fact that you’re not going to be able to grow your plants pesticide-free in a city. That doesn’t work unless you have a large yard that offers the nutrients your plants need through the deep, fresh manure.

If you’re anti-fertilizer and you live in the city, the bottom line is that you won’t be able to grow a garden. Of course, don’t douse your plants in fertilizer and then come blame me – read the label on your chosen fertilizer stating how often you should use it and use your brain when deciding how often it is ideal to fertilize. Time-released fertilizer works well for me, FYI.

Make Sure The Pots Are Big Enough To Support The Plant

Don’t buy a tiny little pot that barely holds five handfuls of soil and expect a Habanero Pepper plant to grow into an Oak tree. Again (and I can’t stress this enough), the plant needs nutrients!

Search Google for what plants you want to grow, check their average size, and spend the money to buy the extra big pot so you can actually see your plant progressively grow bigger and bigger!

Water Those Babies Everyday!watering garden, garden

Whether you’re a traveling freshwater fish salesman, a traveling professional athlete slugging your way to your next big contract, or a hairy wookie who drifts with the concert scene during the summer months, if you’re not at home every day to water your vegetables, they are going to die. Period. The end. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.

If you’re a person who who tends to move from task to task and can’t focus on a personal project for more than 2-3 days, then gardening’s might not be the best for you.

Stick to the produce aisle and keep ordering delivery through DiningIn instead of cooking fresh. Also, be sure to be sure that your plants drain ALL of their excess water. If it rains hard, you don’t want the water to build up and flood the roots of the plants, which may eventually kill them altogether.

Consider Building A Raised Garden Bed

You truly need the deck/yard space to do this; if you don’t have a deck/yard that is at least 10’x10’, it’s nearly impossible. However, if you do have enough space, you should strongly think about building a raised garden bed.

A sedan alone provides enough space to transport the materials needed to build a raised bed, and there are plenty of how-to instruction manuals available on the World Wide Web to assist you in building one.

Here’s a blog describing how to build a raised garden bed that we found to be quite useful.

Read Gardening Journals To Decide When To Harvest

I’m not here to tell you when to pick your cucumbers – leave that to the Farmer’s Almanac. Also, gather your information from multiple sources.

Don’t be afraid to bring your plants inside during a hurricane, one day without sun won’t hurt them, but one day sucking up more than three inches of rain probably will.

Don’t be afraid to take your plants inside if you fear that an impending storm will knock them over, or overpower and subsequently damage them.

Up, squirrelWatch Out For Those Damn Squirrels!

They’re pesky little buggers with annoying and hyperactive personalities (although they’re quite cute), but you must watch out for them nonetheless. They’re  quite reckless in their endeavors, often senselessly hightailing it over whatever mass of land they can get their tiny little feet on if they get spooked.

If you see them messing up your precious plants, just dump a little bit of Cayenne Pepper over the sides of your pots. They’ll smell that and know very well to stay far, far away. 

So there you have it, Gardening 101 in less than 1,000 words! Now move to the nearest hardware store and/or plant shop and grow yourself some veggies!