Create Your Own Green Space in the City
Pauline Blake in relax mode in her garden. (Photos: Jason Tulloch)

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow — Audrey Hepburn

With our city skyline now being dominated by high-rise apartment buildings, the landscape is slowly being diminished. Add to this our hectic work schedule and the daily grind of traffic to and from the office there’s little wonder that we are often left feeling fatigued and stressed.

Alleviate some of that stress by taking a long, hot soak, pour a glass of your favourite wine or tend to a few plants. I can hear the responses already: ‘’Is that not adding more challenges to my day? No way!” Believe me, it’s not as daunting as it seems, and the benefits are quite therapeutic once you get it going. By following a few basic steps it will all fall into place.

With the approval of your strata, then it’s all systems go!

First on the agenda is identifying the space that is available to you: Is it the balcony, a windowsill, the entrance or a patio? With that decision made we will move on to the selection of containers.

Enhance your patio with the right selection of containers.<strong id="strong-3">.</strong>
A trellis will always come in handy for your vines.<strong id="strong-4">.</strong>

Selecting the proper container is crucial, in terms of placement width and depth. For example, if you plan on growing tomatoes then a deeper pot is more suitable as it can grow into a very tall plant often requiring staking. You can, if space is limited, consider planting two or more plants in a container as long as they are staggered; in other words, everything should not be on the same height and [not] overcrowded. Planting multiple plants in a single container is an option as long as they have enough room to grow. Containers can be placed at varying heights to add dimension to the space and create visual interest. The more containers placed in an area the higher the humidity, which equals better plant growth. Remember you can also go vertical with your containers and the use of a trellis will always come in handy for your vines.

OK, so it’s decision time: What do you want to grow? Is it veggies, herbs, succulents or annuals, all of which are readily available at Garden Centres across the city, or all of the above? The decision is yours, but my advice to you is to start small and try not to take on more than you can manage.

Planting multiple plants in one container is an option, as long as they have enough room to grow.<strong id="strong-5">.</strong>
A windowsill garden<strong id="strong-6">Lauren Skillen</strong>
Cherry tomatoes growing in containers.<strong id="strong-7">.</strong>
Create an atractive dish garden by arranging a collection of plants and flowers in a shallow container with no drainage holes<strong id="strong-8">.</strong>
Empty fruit cans become attractive pots for your plants.<strong id="strong-9">.</strong>

We now get down to the nitty-gritty, where it all comes down to the soil. Using a proper potting mix cannot be over-emphasised as this helps to determine how well your plants will grow. Here are a few things you should bear in mind before planting. The bottom of the containers should have holes in them to assist with proper drainage; without this you will very soon have dead plants on your hands. Adding some compost to the soil, along with a slow-release fertiliser at this time, is a good thing as the plants will develop a strong root system from this practice. When containers are placed in saucers, ensure they are emptied daily as this could lead to root rot and breeding of mosquitos.

Most plants require some amount of sunlight, so proper placement is key in this regard.

If you have plants on a windowsill or on a balcony, then watering with a watering can is the best option; the use of a hose works best on the outside, for obvious reasons. Water only when the plant needs it. Here’s how: Simply stick one of your fingers in the soil, and if it comes up dry then go ahead and water.

I am well aware how tedious this may sound but I can assure you it’s for the greater good. The world is heading in a direction that is going to necessitate us growing our own edibles for our own sustenance, one container at a time, and what better time to start than now?

­­— Pauline Blake

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