If you’ve ever thought about starting a home garden, chances are at least a few obstacles have prevented you from getting started, especially if you live in a city. For urban residents in particular where homes with puny backyards and apartments with cramped balconies are the norm, gardening can often seem downright impossible.
Despite the perceived struggles associated with starting a home garden in a big city, the urban gardening trend has been catching on among people who live in even the most densely populated areas across North America. The benefits of being able to grow your own fresh veggies and herbs, it seems, far outweighs the drawbacks associated with effort, time, and cost.
If you're not yet convinced, here are five common excuses urban dwellers use to avoid starting their own home garden -- and what they can do to solve these problems.
1. “I don’t have the space for a garden.”
People often imagine they need a sizeable yard or plot of flat land with good soil to start a successful garden. This couldn’t be any further from the truth, unless of course you’re planning to feed all your neighbors too.
Solution:Vertical gardens are wonderful solutions for apartment balconies and miniature backyards. With one planter, container, or sachet stacked on top of the other, you save loads of room and can set one up without sacrificing room for your barbecue, patio set, or whatever else. Country Living has a wonderful photo gallery of different styles and ideas to check out.
2. “I don’t have the time to tend to a garden.”
All that potting, planting, fertilizing, watering, picking, washing, and not to mention researching how to do it all in the first place can sure seem time consuming. It doesn’t have to be that way. In reality, you can build a garden that requires as little or as much time as you want to give to it.
Solution: Go for low maintenance plants that are easy to grow anywhere and by anyone regardless of their experience. Some of the easiest veggies to grown include lettuce and other leafy greens, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, green beans, and even tomatoes.
3. “I live somewhere that doesn’t get much sunlight during the day.”
Knowing that plants require ample sunlight is common sense, and it’s true that some homes and apartments just aren’t situated at the right angle for it to shine during the daytime. But there are at least a couple of ways to work around it.
Solution: Special growing lights (like this one) can help gardeners tend to their plants indoors or when not enough sunlight is available. Alternatively, if you're fine with venturing away from your own home, you can research your area for any community gardens that offer up patches of the land for members of the community to share.
4. “I don’t have the budget to get all the tools and supplies.”
Gardening certainly can be pricey if you don’t do your research first; but don’t be fooled into thinking you need fancy gardening gloves and certain expensive types of seeds and every kind of planting tool in existence. Not only are there many inexpensive items and sales you can take advantage of, but there are also lots of fantastic DIY ideas out there as well that can cost you next to nothing.
Solution: Grab your last grocery bill (or as many as you have from the last few weeks) and take inventory of the items you bought that could be grown at home. Compare it to the standard price of the bare essentials you’d need for a garden — like planters, soil, seeds, a watering can, and maybe a bit of fertilizer. According to Money Crashers, you should be able to start a home garden for well under $100.
Even if the cost of those gardening supplies do surpass the cost of buying from the grocery store, you may find that over the long run, that initial investment in a few gardening resources will end up saving you much more than taking continuous trips to the grocery store every week or two to stock up on fresh veggies and herbs.
4. “I’ve owned plants before, but I can’t keep anything alive.”
For some reason, aspiring gardeners tend to assume they have to be naturally talented at growing beautiful, full plants with no impurities whatsoever in order for it to be worth it. Too many people become victims of their own perfection, and make it seem like there’s absolutely no room to make mistakes.
Solution: Change your mindset by viewing urban gardening as a learning experience. Every mistake you make is a lesson — not proof of your non-existent green thumb. Besides, with the magic of the Internet, there are all sorts of fantastic online communities and blogs you can turn to for guidance and to ask questions when you could use a little help.
Starting is often half the battle. Once you finally commit to just doing it, you might find that all the excuses you made in the first place about urban gardening turned out to be so much easier to deal with than you had initially expected.
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Small garden on a balcony via Shutterstock