By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao 

By now, most of us have already engaged or have become interested in urban gardening which is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around urban areas.

More than being a source of food for households and communities, urban gardening also has benefits in augmenting income, reducing the amount of solid waste, and creating a greener environment. 

In the previous article, Bryan A. Tingas, a farming advocate talked about the benefits of urban gardening and how to get started. Here, he focuses on three kinds of urban gardening practices and their basics. 

The different kinds of urban gardening and their basics 

Even though urban gardening is usually done in limited space, the practice does not confine the gardener’s creativity. It helps that there are different kinds of urban gardening approaches that people can choose from depending on the size of their space, their available resources, and their budget. 

During a webinar under the AgriTalk 2020 Caraga leg which was held in partnership with the Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Training Institute in Caraga (DA-ATI Caraga) Manila Bulletin, and Agriculture Online, Tingas explained that the different kinds of urban gardening include container gardening, raised bed gardening, and hydroponics. 

1. Container gardening

Also known as pot gardening, Tingas defined this as the practice of growing plants, including edible ones, exclusively in containers rather than growing them in the ground. 

This type of gardening is usually done in households with limited space since the plants can be grown in containers which are then strategically placed in locations where they can get an ample amount of sunlight, water, and air. 

“Container gardens are extremely family-friendly and a great way to spend time with family or introducing the hobby to little ones,” Tingas said. 

When venturing into container gardening, the key element is the containers where the plants will be grown in. Gardeners can have their pick from native basket wares, wooden containers, ceramic planters, and more. Yet, Tingas encourages recycling old materials such as plastic bottles, tin cans, old tires, and more since it’s more environmentally-friendly and the used objects can serve another purpose. 

Just remember that in using recycled materials, or even in buying new ones, it is important that the medium has drainage holes to keep the plant from drowning when watered and to promote proper ventilation in the soil. 

Creating drainage holes in recycled materials can be done by simply poking holes that are big enough to let water and air pass but not big enough to let soil escape on the bottom side of the planting medium. 

Aside from being environmentally-friendly, container gardening allows the gardener to create their own plan or design as to how they want their garden to look like. They can create hanging planters or let their imagination run free as to where the plants will be located. 

2. Raised bed or square foot gardening

Raised bed gardening or square foot gardening is done by growing plants in soil that is higher than the ground. It can be done in enclosures or frames made of wood, stone, or repurposed material. 

This practice is usually done in areas with medium to large spaces but don’t have the right quality of soil. 

“Materials aren’t limited to wood only. Bamboos, hollow blocks, and other materials available in the area can be used,” Tingas said. 

To create the frame, first make a box measuring four feet by four feet made out of the chosen material. Secure it in a location that gets a good amount of sunlight before placing a board, tarpaulin, or sack. This will keep the planting soil separate from the ground. 

As for the soil, the proper mix should include top soil, kitchen ash, vermi cast, heap compost, powdered charcoal, and coco peat. Combine these together before putting the finished mix into the frames. 

Next, create a grid measuring one feet by one feet each on the frame. There should be a total of 16 boxes in frame. Bamboo or plain wood can be used to create the grid. 

Once the frame has been set up, it’s time to begin planting. An advantage of the raised bed garden or square foot garden approach is that a variety of plants can be grown in one box.

3. Hydroponic gardening 

“Hydroponics is a form of gardening that uses no soil but instead grows plants in a solution of water and nutrients. A hydroponic system can grow plants and vegetables faster and year-round,” Tingas said. 

This way, plants usually yield more, require less space, and conserve both soil as well as water. 

Under this category, there are six different types of hydroponics which include the nutrient film technique (NFT), deep water culture system (DWC), wick system, ebb and flow, drip system, and aeroponics. 

Each type has a different approach when it comes to growing the plants but they all utilize a nutrient solution. 

For example, the NFT uses a very shallow stream of water containing all the dissolved nutrients required for plant growth to be re-circulated past the plants’ bare roots in a watertight channel. 

Its opposite is the DWC where plant roots are immersed in an oxygen and nutrient rich water reservoir which helps build healthy root systems faster and more efficiently than soil. 

The wick system is the easiest and simplest technique among the different kinds of hydroponics. This system uses one or two wicks to deliver water from the reservoir to the plants’ roots.

Next is the ebb and flow or flood and drain. It involves the periodic flooding and draining of the nutrient solution to and from the plants’ roots. 

The drip system, on the other hand, allows water to drip slowly to the roots of the plants either above or below soil surface. This system has the potential to save water and nutrients. 

Last is aeroponics. This is known as the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or other similar mediums. 

Using any of these three urban gardening practices, aspiring gardeners can grow their own food right in their own homes and available spaces. Not only will they be able to enjoy fresh and safely produced food, but they will also take satisfaction in its many other benefits. 

Watch the full video of the webinar here