A beginner’s guide to urban gardening

Gardening in the city, regardless of how small a space you have, is possible! Urban gardening is the perfect way to utilize your space, whether that’s an apartment balcony or a small corner in your backyard, to bring to life the garden you always dreamed of having.


Not sure where to start? Our beginner urban gardening guide offers step-by-step tasks to lead you to your very own green space. 


  1. Find your location: Whether you build your garden in your own home or choose to plant vegetables in a local Ottawa community garden, picking a location to plant is your first step. Consider asking yourself questions related to the space: Where can you plant and maintain your plants easily? Does the space have sunlight (a must for most vegetables and herbs)? Will the space fit all the plants you hope to have? Once you’ve answered these questions and found your location, you’re ready to move to the next step. 


  1. Choose what to grow: Now that you have chosen a location for your garden, it’s time to choose what flowers, vegetables or herbs you wish to grow. In Ottawa, it’s possible to grow a variety of plants outside from spring through fall and the choice of what to plant really comes down to personal preference. Most flower bulbs, plant seeds and starter plants have information on when to plant, but if you are wondering when to start growing vegetables, check out the Ottawa vegetable planting guide. (The May long weekend is generally the time most planting is done, but you can plant earlier or later depending on the plant.)


  1. Prepare your materials and space: There are a few starter items you’ll want to get your garden underway. Consider purchasing containers, fertilizer and potting soil, a watering can, garden shovels, clippers and signs to label your plants. If you are growing in a smaller apartment space, consider hanging baskets or a plant box to make use of the vertical space available. 


  1. Purchase and plant: Now that your space is set up, the last step is purchasing the seeds, bulbs and starter plants you need to create your urban garden. Make sure to read the instructions for each before you buy, as all flowers and other plants differ in how much water, sunlight and care they need. For instance, if you have a south-facing balcony, you should probably avoid shade-loving flowers.


  1. Maintain and enjoy: From being surrounded by nature and eating fresh food, to boosting your mood and reducing stress, gardening has many benefits. Once your urban garden is finished, all you have left to do is maintain it — weeding, watering, pruning or dead-heading, harvesting — as needed and, most of all, enjoying your new pastime.
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