Sunday, September 7, 2014

5 Tips for Micro Gardening in an Urban Backyard

Small Plants, Small Spaces, Big Results from Urban Backyard Micro Gardening

micro gardening
No matter where you live as long as you have access to good soil, plenty of sun, and the wherewithal to water regularly, you can produce a bountiful crop for your family during the growing season in your urban backyard with micro gardening. With food prices climbing to match fuel prices due to shipping concerns, I've found that growing food in a micro garden can not only save money from my budget, but also allow me the benefits of time spent with my family, improved nutrition, and a peace of mind that comes from working the earth. These 5 tips will help in simplifying your urban backyard micro garden experience.

Choosing Where To Plant Your Micro Garden
 
This is not as difficult a choice as it might seem to be. Plants that require full sunlight are those that have elements harvested above the soil, such as tomatoes, peppers, and leafy greens. Root vegetables, such as carrots, onions, and potatoes enjoy a partially shaded environment. I tend to plant my micro garden crops in large re-purposed resources such as reclaimed terracotta planters, buckets, and plastic bins. You only need a soil depth of about 12 inches for most vegetables, including tomatoes, as long as you keep them supported with climbing structures or bamboo poles.

Improving Urban Backyard Soil
 
The magic starts with your prepared soil. To increase my urban backyard yield, I have forgone the bagged commercial soil and prepare my own using the Mel's Mix formula that is designed for small square foot gardens. Comprised of 1/3 mixed source compost, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 peat moss, this urban backyard garden mixture renews nutrients and allows for water retention as well as drainage. Even if placed in a larger garden plot and cared for, the soil never needs to be tilled or treated with fertilizers.

What To Plant In An Urban Backyard Micro Garden
 
The plants to choose should be those that produce the most in smaller spaces, such as Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, or climbing sugar snap peas. I tend to choose plants that climb rather than bush out, as vertical growing offers more produce in a micro garden. If it's a Feng Shui challenge you are looking for instead of harvest volume, even sweet corn can be grown in an urban backyard plot with enough care. I've done so several times with only a few 5 gallons pails and a single meal to look forward to.

Micro Garden Pest Control
 
Though not inundated with the same pests as a rural farmer, I still see my share of tomato horn worms and slugs making bold moves against my labors. To combat these villains I plant natural repellents such as borage and fennel. I will on occasion dust the micro garden with organic and non-toxic pest control solutions as well just to be sure. With small planting spaces, I find it is much easier to eyeball and simply 'pluck' away any intruders if checking once or twice a day.


An Urban Backyard Oasis
 
Last but not least, always remember that the urban backyard micro garden is there as a joyful benefit for you and your family. If it becomes a burden, then it is no longer worth it. I use my time in the garden to relax and let the cares of the day slip away while watching my kids enjoy the fruits of our labor from a grazing garden. Berries, peas, beans, and cherry tomatoes make up their summer snack diet, and we all benefit from the fresh air and healthy sunshine experienced in our urban backyard micro garden.