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Be An Urban Gardener: 10 Guides For Growing In Small Spaces

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Be An Urban Gardener: 10 Guides For Growing In Small Spaces

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Green spaces and food growing are springing up in cities around the world.

Interested in urban gardening or growing in a small space? Check out our best urban gardening guides.

Romally Coverdale

Sun 13 Mar 2022

Don’t let being in a city or the size of your garden (or not having one) prevent you from starting your own vegetable patch or garden.

Whether your garden is inside or outside, big or small, or maybe you’re just curious about a future green space, there will be a guide on this list perfect for you.

vegetable patch with city skyline in background

What is urban gardening?

Urban gardening is growing produce in urban areas instead of farms, fields and other forms of rural land - hence its alternate names of urban agriculture, or urban farming.

It can refer to

  • community gardens
  • plots of land
  • inside one’s own house
  • on a balcony

This is not a contemporary invention, in fact, cities globally used to depend on farms within city walls.

Yet, due to industrialisation and competing prices, alongside other factors, urban growing lost popularity.

However, this is no longer the case as urban gardening is on the rise and will be an important part of shaping our sustainable future.

hands in planter on balcony
“Urban farms could reduce food related emissions”

Rise in popularity in urban gardening

Firstly, the coronavirus pandemic played a particularly big role in the rise in popularity.

For a multitude of reasons, from maintaining a relationship with nature, hobby-making, to food shortages, more people wanted to start growing their own produce.

Interestingly, it appears that Covid-19 purely acted as a catalyst for an already growing trend.

There was an increase in community gardens and projects of all varieties, including recreating older forms of agriculture.

What is unique to urban gardening is that a garden is not needed.

In the UK 1 in 8 households do not have access to a garden, so luckily these groups are not excluded.

The garden-less nature also means that old and disused buildings and structures can be repurposed.

This, again, is nothing new.

After World War 2, there were initiatives for repurposing buildings that were no longer needed to grow food and across the world post-industrial developments have been turned into urban farms.

It is estimated that more than 800 million people worldwide are practicing urban gardening, and this will continue to grow as the global population living in urban areas will increase to 68% by 2050.

wall planters with herbs growing
84% of fruit and 46% of vegetables consumed in the UK are imported

The benefits of urban gardening

There are a multitude of benefits to urban gardening:

  • Greener towns and cities
  • More resilient food supplies and less food miles
  • Ability to garden in all weathers
  • Less reliance on imports
  • Healthier lives both physically and mentally
  • Healthier ecosystems
  • Creates food security and more immediate methods of waste processing
  • Growing your own makes food cheaper
  • Urban gardening creates communities, job creation and education
  • It would reduce CO2 if we invested in more local food systems
gardeners passing each other produce
“Growing our own food makes us care more about healthy, sustainable, and ethically sourced produce”

Why urban gardening is the future

While the UK has a cheap food market at the moment, we spend an average of 8% of our total household expenditure on food (half that of the rest of Europe), it appears that this will not be the mainstay.

A mixture of Brexit and reliance on EU imports has already meant food prices are rising.

Additionally, global warming and extreme weather conditions may end the era of ultra-low food prices - while urban gardening isn’t entirely affected by such conditions.

A great and sustainable way to reduce costs is to invest in urban farming.

In fact, as much as 180 million tonnes of food a year could be produced with urban gardening, producing 10% of our global output of legumes, roots, and vegetables.

For the UK specifically, researchers in Sheffield found that 10% of domestic gardens and 10% of available green space in urban areas (in addition to current allotments) could provide 15% of the local population with sufficient fruit and vegetables.

So what are we waiting for, let's get stuck in.

gardener admiring produce

Quick links to pebble's guides to growing in small spaces

At pebble, all of our products are independently recommended by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission which goes to help running our publication.

Urban Gardening: 10 Guides For Growing In Small Spaces

close up of a herb garden

1. Urban Botanics: An Indoor Plant Guide for Modern Gardeners by Emma Sibley and Maaike Koster

Emma Sibley and Maaike Koster present the stunning Urban Botanics, an illustrated guide to indoor plants.

It's accessible and engaging for those actively wanting to start indoor gardening or those who just want to know more.

Perfect for beginner gardeners, the guide is filled with over 70 plants that are easy to maintain.

This handbook guides the reader through tips on how to make your indoor garden thrive. Brimming with information and colour, this guide is a spectacular start to the list.

Urban Gardening Urban Botanics

2. Gourmet Gardens for Indoor Urban Farming by Judit Z Boros

Judit Z Boros proves that ecological systems can be created and maintained within our contemporary lifestyles in Gourmet Gardens.

As an emerging expert in her field of integrating nature-based solutions to urban environments, this handbook is filled with design solutions to realise daily food production in your city.

Within this eco-conscious how-to guide, you can get to grips with how you can produce food more easily at home, whether that's just for you or for a small business.

Suited for gardeners of any ability.

Urban Gardening Gourmet Gardens for Indoor Urban Farming

3. The Urban Vegetable Patch: A Modern Guide to Growing Sustainably, Whatever Your Space by Grace Paul

Grace Paul presents a guide to gardening no matter your space in The Urban Vegetable Patch.

It includes tips for growing vegetables from seeds or scraps, as well as practical tips on how to cook, store and share your food.

Paul details how to plant for wildlife, and garden in ways that reduce plastics, waste and water.

This environmentally-conscious guide is great for beginners, but experienced gardeners will also find useful and sustainable tips.

The Urban Vegetable Patch

4. Urban Gardening for Beginners: Simple Hack and Easy Projects for Growing Your Own Food in Small Spaces by Marc Thoma

As the title suggests, Marc Thoma’s handbook is most suited for beginners, with advice for cultivating everything - whether it be herbs or vegetables.

Whether inside or outside, Urban Gardening for Beginners will show you how to produce sustainable ingredients no matter how limited your space may be.

Find easy step-by-step projects for gardening basics, as well as whichever form of gardening is best suited for you.

Urban Gardening

5. The Garden Jungle - or Gardening to Save the Planet by Dave Goulson

This Sunday Times bestseller The Garden Jungle is a book that every gardener should read, no matter where your skills lie.

Learn about why your local park is so important to your urban ecosystem or how to tell how healthy the soil in your garden is.

Dave Goulson, a Professor of Biology at Sussex University and founder of Bumble Conservation Trust, draws the reader’s attention to the unappreciated creatures of the natural world and the ecological collapse happening before our eyes and under our feet.

The Garden Jungle

6. Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet: Inventive Ideas for Growing Food in a Small Space by DK

DK proves that you don’t need to have an allotment to grow your own food in Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet.

A perfect beginners guide to small scale urban gardening, this book provides key techniques from beginning to end of the garden's journey.

It includes a variety of projects for all types of urban gardening spaces, showcasing a multitude of inspirational ideas.

Find an A-Z guide for growing over seventy fruits, vegetables and herbs, and gardening tips that suit any gardener.

Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet

7. Field Guide to Urban Gardening: How to Grow Plants, No Matter Where You Live: by Kevin Espiritu

In the Field Guide to Urban Gardening, Kevin Espiritu details a multitude of methods for urban gardening.

In this handbook, the basics of urban gardening are illustrated, as well as tips for deciding the best method for you - thus making it great for beginners but it also includes tips for advanced gardeners.

This fact-filled book provides in-depth garden plans, upcycled DIY projects and other other ideas, and troubleshoots the most common problems encountered in urban gardening.

Field Guide to Urban Gardening

8. Veg in One Bed: How to Grow an Abundance of Food in One Raised Bed, Month by Month by Huw Richards

Ideal for beginning gardeners and those with allotments, Huw Richards guides you month by month on how to become more self-sufficient using one raised bed.

Alongside beautiful illustrations, Veg in One Bed provides instructions on how to grow vegetables organically, abundantly and inexpensively.

A suggested blueprint is provided to assist you on growing produce that yields all year round.

Everything is clearly explained, making this handbook highly accessible. It's a great addition to the gardening bookshelf.

Veg in One Bed

9. Tiny Victory Gardens: Growing Food Without a Yard by Acadia Tucker

In Tiny Victory Gardens established author and regenerative farmer, Acadia Tucker, describes an easy-to-use gardening guide for those without land.

Including profiles of 21 container-friendly crops, recipes for potted farms, how to build microbe-rich soil, and tips on finding the right container, this handbook is essential.

Her goal is to make gardening possible for anyone with access to sunlight - she proves there are no limits preventing anyone from gardening.

Tiny Victory Gardens

10. Microgreen Garden: An Indoor Grower’s Guide to Gourmet Greens by Mark Mathew Baunstein

Microgreens are not only inexpensive and easy to grow, but are also packed with vitamins.

This comprehensive resource by Mark Mathew details how to farm and cultivate 55 species of microgreens inside at home.

There is guidance on temperature, light, seeds and soil. Microgreen Garden is suitable for beginner to intermediate gardeners.

Each microgreen included is fully profiled, including flavour - to help you decide your go-to greens.

Micro Green Garden

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