5 Alternatives to Building an Outdoor Garden

Nothing tastes better than something you grew yourself, and the satisfaction of planting, tending, and harvesting your own produce is an experience none should forgo. Unfortunately, there are many unyielding obstacles that prevent some of us from building our own little gardens, but there’s also a solution for just about every problem! Here are a few of those solutions.

Problems: Season and Timing

Solution: Greenhouses

Using a greenhouse is the single most effective way to maximize control over your plants’ environment. Although daunting to many, greenhouse use is very easy to learn and opens up infinite possibilities for gardeners. You can start seeds earlier, protect your annuals from the frost, and grow practically anything year-round—essentially, you can obviate any obstacles of temperature and time of year. If you have a hankering to start your garden in October, or grow lemons in January, you can.

Greenhouses also provide protection from natural hazards like hungry animals or storms, and help prevent exposure to insects or diseases. There are excellent grow tents available in a variety of styles and sizes, suiting backyard hobbyists and commercial operations alike. You can also opt for the traditional glass-paned greenhouse, but it can be easy to accidentally magnify the sun’s rays through the glass and destroy your plants by overheating.

Problem: No Yard

Solution: Vertical Indoor Garden

This indoor gardening alternative is perfect for those who either don’t have a yard or don’t want to till what they do have. A vertical indoor garden is an attractive addition to any living space—they look beautiful, the natural smells and colors fill up a room, and the living plants help keep the indoor air fresh and oxygenated. And because you’re gardening vertically, the structure barely takes up more space than a painting!

A popular strategy for building a vertical garden is using an old shipping pallet, which you can then either hang or lean against a wall. I recommend planting a wide variety of herbs for organically seasoning up all your kitchen-made meals. Greens also grow well in palettes, and you can plant any vegetables with stalks along the top.

Problem: Not enough spare time

Solution: Window boxes

If you love fresh veggies or flowers but don’t have time to tend an outdoor garden or pursue laborious indoor alternatives, window boxes are the perfect solution. Window boxes are a way to harness environmental forces like sun and rain without tilling a bed, and their relatively small size is very manageable—you can build and plant them in a single day!

If you care about your box’s looks, it’s helpful to bear in mind the “thriller, filler, spiller” rule. You want to arrange your flowers so that a tall, eye-catching plant is in the center, surrounded by smaller, thicker blossoms, with the “spiller” on the very edge of the arrangement draping over the sides. If you’re using your box for growing vegetables, not flowers, carrots and radishes make good “thrillers,” and leafy greens are great for filling out the rest of the box—mixed baby greens are especially easy to grow, low-maintenance, and can be harvested continually.

Problem: Environmental Concerns

Solution: Hydroponics

In traditional gardening, plants absorb their nutrients from the soil, but with hydroponics, plants absorb nutrients from a nutrient-rich liquid solution in a soil-less environment. You have to be careful to buy your nutrient mixes from a hydroponic-specific manufacturer, but you can recycle your solution many times. Roots need to be exposed to some oxygen or they will “drown,” and there are lots of methods for getting this oxygen exposure. Using an air pump to generate bubbles and oxygen in the water, and you can make an inexpensive DIY home kit you can use indoors or out.

Because most pests live in the soil, hydroponic agriculture requires zero pesticides. You also have complete control over the nutrients your plant is absorbing, optimizing its levels and preventing the build-up of undesirable nutrient concentrations, such as nitrates. Pretty much everyone agrees that hydroponically-grown plants taste better and are healthier than those grown in soil, so if you’re trying to find the most wholesome way to eat naturally, this could be it!

Problem: No indoor or outdoor space

Solution: Community Garden

If you live in a small apartment with no yard of your own and without either the money or the space to pursue any indoor gardening options, don’t despair! You’re not out of options yet. Even if you absolutely can’t build any kind of garden in your own space, there’s probably a community plot nearby. There are over 18,000 community gardens in the US—you can find one through the American Community Gardening Association. Community gardens have tons of benefits, like reducing crime and air pollution, raising property values, and providing urban families with an opportunity to inexpensively grow organic produce to which they might not otherwise have access. If you you’re yearning to get back to nature despite your cramped city living, find one of these gardens for an escape!

Investing into some lovely Rattan Garden Furniture is a great idea as it is very reliable piece of furniture.

[About the author: Peter Kim is a freelance writer with a passion for the environment and green business.]

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