FAQ

What is an URBAN GARDEN?

An Urban Garden is just like a traditional garden, except for the fact that it has been installed within an urban setting. Urban Gardens can be used to plant and cultivate spices, vegetables, and fruit. A number of different kinds of materials can be used to install such gardens: treated wood, flowerpots of different shapes and sizes, or—in the final analysis—any kind of container capable of holding substrate.

Where can we install an URBAN GARDEN?

Given that the most important elements for growing a garden are water and sun, the first thing that we need to do is find a place that has sufficient—but not excessive!—sunlight. A southern view is recommended.

It is important to stress that exposure to sunlight not be constant. A minimum of six hours for herbs and eight hours for nightshades would be a general guideline.

The advantage of using flowerpots and planter boxes is that they can be easily moved in order to control exposure to sunlight. For this reason, it is recommended that immovable structures of any kind be avoided. And if you do opt for fixed structures, you really should do so only after having first conducted a sunlight study in order to determine the most advantageous placement.

Whatever the particular setting—on a terrace or garden in your own family home, or in a restaurant, hotel, or residential building, it is always posible to find some space with the required characteristics that will look a good deal better with an Urban Garden.

Materials needed for setting up an URBAN GARDEN

My own personal preference—in the absence of any indication to the contrary that is dictated by particular location or structure—is to use planter boxes made with treated wood and good bottom drainage in order to avoid excessive water retention (which could cause the plant to rot) but which at the same time allows the plant to absorb the water’s nutrients.

Here are a few additional recommendations:

  • Let your own and/or your customers’ preferences determine placement of the garden, within the limits of available space and in accordance with your asethetic and practical needs.
  • Line the structures that you use with plastic, geotextile cloth, or similar materials, in order to protect them.
  • Whatever containers you use should be filled with substrate composed of the material that is most suitable in terms of both the particular plants within them and the surrounding environments.

Planting

So now we are at last ready to plant.

The first thing we have to do is choose the seeds or plants that you want to cultivate, and then carry out a short study regarding their needs. The results of this study will determine whether we should grow different kinds of plants separately or together.

For example, tomatoes and basil complement one another quite well. This means that, if you grow them together, they will each derive benefit in a kind of symbiosis. The nutrients that are not absorbed by the basil will be absorbed by the tomatoes—and vice versa. This means that less maintenance will be needed than if the two species were grown separately.

On the other hand, combining Swiss chard with any kind of tomato would be a disaster, since both draw upon the same nutrients.

Plants draw their sustenance from the environment, water, and substrate—and from the fertilizers used in that substrate.

In order to assure that the substrate of your Urban Garden is properly airated, a balanced mixture of dirt and organic material is recommended. Good organic materials for this purpose include coconut fibers and the bark of untreated wood.

The most commonly used fertilizers in Urban Gardens include guano (bat droppings) and worm castings. Goat dung fertilizers are also recommended.

It is important to remember that plants mainly feed off the following nutrients:

  • Macronutrients: sulphur, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, nitrogen. Plants require such nutrients in amounts higher than 0.5%.
  • Micronutrients: iron, boron, chlorine, copper, magnesium, molybdenum, and zinc. Plants require such nutrients in amounts lower than 0.5%.

After the content has been selected (i.e., the particular type of plants), we need to go back to the previous step and choose the apropriate container to use.

We previously discussed planter boxes and similar containers, as well as flowerpots. Containers such as these can be moved, if needed.

Time and cost

How long does it take to set up an Urban Garden? The answer to this question largely depends on your available resources, as well as your needs and the time you have to devote to the project. What I can say with absolute confidence is that it takes less time to set up an Urban Garden than it does to plow a field!

As regards costs, these will vary largely in accordance with your needs, resources, and demands, as well as your knowledge, creativity, and ingenuity–with our advice– in economizing use of water, materials, substrate, soil, etc. What I can assure is that the costs involved are not astronomical.

Maintenance

Maintaining an Urban Garden is not especially complicated or time-consuming. We and our customers can both participate in the tasks required for ongoing maintenance.

Perhaps the most important maintenance issue is pest control. Here are some tips:

  • Garlic ,because of its strong odor, not only functions as an insect repellant, but also keeps dogs and cats away. The following mixture is recommended: a garlic head, several chile peppers, three glasses of water, and a teaspoon of potassium soap. This mixture should be sprinkled on the plant, especially on the back of the leaves—where the eggs of harmful bugs are typically laid, and where pests attack.
  • Copper is also a good repellant of invading pests. Tying copper wire on stems is a good idea.
  • Eggshells serve as both a good fertilizer and a good repellent. You should crush them as finely as possible and then mix them with dirt.
  • While natural tobacco is harmful to man, it is even worse for red spiders and whiteflies. Mix 600 grams of natural tobacco and 10 grams of natural soap in one liter of water. Apply this mixture to plants every seven days over the couse of two months.
  • There are of course certain plants that themselves act as a repellent. As much as you can, mix in rosemary, thyme, and cilantro with the plants of your garden. Their strong odor repels invading pests.
  • Lavender is a good repellent for ants. Place 300 grams of fresh lavender in one liter of water, boil the water, and then cool the mixture. Afterwards, sprinkle the mixture on plants that have been attacked by ants.
  • Ash is also a very effective remedy. It not only repels insects, but also enables plants to root in the soil. Ash should be sprinkled on the ground prior to watering. However, it should not be used in excess, especially in hot climates, since it might end up drying and even burning the roots of plants.
  • Do you have some old CD’s that you never play any more? Well, you can finally make use of them! Place them in your garden to keep out curious birds that can damage your plants!
  • Other colorful items that you can use include yellow and blue strips dipped in vegetable oil. These both act as repellants: the yellow strips of red spiders, and the blue strips of whiteflies.