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Connecticut Garden Journal: Tips for urban gardening

Greens growing in containers in Eastwind Community Gardens, Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles, California, USA.
via Getty
Gardening in a tiny space? Building raised beds and adding organic matter and topsoil can help plants grow better.

As I finish touring India, I'm reminded of the power of urban gardens. India is the most populated country in the world and it's impressive how they garden in such a crowded place.

We also can garden in small spaces in our towns and cities, but there can be challenges. Here's a few tips for urban gardening.

Urban settings can have poor or even contaminated soils. It's best to do a soil test to make sure the soil is safe to grow in. Building raised beds and adding organic matter and topsoil can help plants grow better. Consider trying straw bale gardening and community gardens as well. Of course, containers are sometimes the best option for a small gardening space and don't forget using hanging baskets, railing planters and vertical trellises to grow plants.

Try to locate your beds and containers where they'll get the most sun. That may change throughout the summer due to shade from nearby buildings and trees, so move containers as needed and grow plants adapted to low light in shady spots. Also, place gardens close to a water source and check local zoning ordinances about building gardens in your yard.

Because you have limited space, select flowers and edibles you really like. For a big bang for your efforts grow edibles such as cherry tomatoes, greens, zucchini, bush beans and cucumbers and annual flowers such as impatiens, zinnias, geraniums and petunias.

Plan for animal pests such as cats, dogs, raccoons and mice. Fence the raised beds, add screening for bird and squirrel protection and use animal repellents.

Learn more about the benefits of urban gardening at the Connecticut Horticultural Societies' Zoom talk at cthort.org.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.