Grow You Own Food In Your Urban Garden

Grow your own food in your Urban Garden!

The opportunities to grow your own food are nearly endless in the greater Philadelphia area.

A successful garden depends on how much sun your plants receive and how much TLC you give your garden. The most important thing is to HAVE FUN and eat what you’ve grown!  This is the healthiest food and you don’t even have to buy it!

Step 1: Decide what crops to plant.
Grow what you love to eat, or perhaps a little something new to spice up your diet! Start plants from seed or you can purchase seedlings.

Step 2:  Plant seeds
Start planting seeds using seed starting trays and soil in a sunny window, remembering to keep the soil moist. This means daily attention: the sunnier the location the more often you’ll need to check soil moisture levels. Save money on materials and be resourceful: Old yogurt containers, milk jugs, or egg cartons can make perfect seed starting materials. Make sure your container has a hole in the bottom to ensure that water can pass through.

You can also purchase young plants that are ready to be planted in the ground. Find a farmer’s market or garden center close to you to purchase seedlings. Here’s a great resource: www.thefoodtrust.org/farmers-markets
Stop at GreensGrow farm in Kensington and West Philadelphia www.greensgrow.org, or any neighborhood plant nursery.

Most retailers offer a return policy; they’ll replace any plants that don’t make it. So relax and start gardening!

Step 3:  Proper watering and occasional fertilization
When watering, you want the soil to be moist to the touch but NOT wet and muddy. If there’s too much soggy soil it will rot the plant’s roots.
Every 2 to 3 months of growth requires you to replace some of the nutrients in the soil by adding organic fertilizer or compost to the soil. These plant foods can be purchased at most garden supply stores. Try to stay away from chemical fertilizers, their potency can sometimes burn or harm plants more than help.
First month: use a balanced vegetable fertilizer or a starter fertilizer. Second or third month: use a flowering fertilizer, such as bone meal to promote flower development...these flowers turn into fruit!

Step 4: When your plants have grown up and are producing vegetables and herbs you can begin to harvest your urban farm crops!
Vegetables can often be harvested when the specific piece of ‘fruit’ is ready for consumption or ripe enough to eat. For instance, if you decided to grow tomatoes and peppers you can pick them when each individual tomato or pepper is ripe for the picking; it will not harm the rest of the plant to do so. This also holds true for most herbs.

Don’t have the space to start a garden?
Find a community garden near you: phsonline.org/greening/garden-tenders/
Start a community garden!

Learn while planting, save money, give back to the earth, and share the wealth of knowledge with those interested in growing their own food! Involve your kids in the process of gardening so they can learn where their food comes from.

Are you planting the right crops for your growing region?  In order to ensure the crops we plant will grow healthily we use a Plant Hardiness Zone Map created by our USDA with partners at the Agriculture Research Service and Oregon State: web address: www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/images_ui/homepage_map.jpg