Have you ever thought about climate change and how it would affect your life? Do you know that everyone has a responsibility towards this planet and a role to play?
We see the impacts of climate change every day; from extreme weather, poor air quality to drought and plant diseases
There is growing recognition of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) as an important strategy for climate change adaptation and mitigation. This is the out-of-the-box solution we should all consider!
As the manager of an urban farm, our mission is to encourage as many urbanites as possible to reconnect back with the soil. We frequently get visited by members of the community who find the walk through the farm a refreshing getaway. But when we inquire as to whether they plant anything at home, the response is usually in the negative.
When I dig further (no pun intended), they often say that they did attempt to grow some herbs years ago, but were so discouraged when the plants died that they never touched the soil again. This is our farm’s best tips to start your urban garden planning.
Growing plants at home is not just as aesthetic hobby. No space outside? Indoor plants have been proven to be beneficial for your mental health and work productivity, among the many other advantages they offer. Gardening is even encouraged in the sunnah. You can easily begin your planning right here, right now.
1 – Assess Your Environment to Begin Your Urban Garden Planning
In an urban living environment, space can be a luxury. If you live in a landed housing property or in a condo with a large terrace, you may have enough space to play around with a variety of plants in different containers. If you have sufficient area, you may decide to use larger planter boxes, trellises or a raised bed to start your gardening.
If you are restricted to indoor space, then you may have to stick with container plants. This is unless you are able to incorporate a hydroponic or aquaponic system that allows you to grow greens in a vertical setup.
If you are growing indoors, ensure the plants are placed where there is sufficient sunlight, and try to have a room temperature below 32-33 Celsius / 89-91 Fahrenheit for optimal results.
2 – Consider Your Plant-Eating and Other Needs
You should determine from the beginning what your intention is behind gardening. If you are planning an edible gardening space, it is best to look at the current meals you prepare and see what ingredients you can grow.
Set a target to grow 10% of the food you cook from your own garden over time if possible.
It may be prudent to start with basic herbs (basil, chives, mint, oregano, parsley, etc.) from either seed or sapling, some may be easier to grow than others depending on your daily schedule and how much time you can pay to their maintenance.
You can also try and grow a mixture of natives (those plants that are known to grow in your area) and non-native plants that may not be local, but your neighbors are able to successfully grow).
Some recommended indoor plants can be grown for their non-edible benefits of improving air quality and emotional health are: jasmine, orchids, aloe vera and peace lily.
3 – Lastly, Maintain Your Plants’ Growth and Health
While you may be tempted to partner one species of plant with another one, try not to overcrowd your plants in tight spaces. Continue to prune them and ensure you harvest regularly from your plants when ripe to prevent pests from proliferating.
For everyone’s sake, avoid artificial pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and opt for natural pest control methods, including garlic spray or even baking soda. Remember that not all insects that plants attract are necessarily bad for their growth.
Study the plant to know how much watering is required, and for potted plants, have a water tray underneath to ensure you can catch excess water that seeps from the soil.
By common wisdom, the best times of the day to water your plants would be early morning or late evening, as the sun isn’t hot enough to dry the soil so quickly. Lastly, set up a method to separate kitchen waste and prepare compost that can be applied to the soil rather than artificial fertilizer to organically boost soil health.
The above is merely a primer, expect to learn more lessons along the way as you develop a relationship with your plants. Don’t be scared of losing some plants along the way, trial and error is a valid way of learning.
Some of the more serious gardeners find the practice to be a spiritual experience. Even if you don’t reach that level, do try and make your home a greener space in the days to come. It’s a sunnah you will definitely benefit from.
First published: October 2019