The Urban Garden

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Many of us dream of starting a garden, but if you live in a big city you may be discouraged to try. Planting your own food or simply showing your children how food grows can be both therapeutic and self-sustaining. Today’s Daily Bite will hopefully inspire you to turn that urban backyard into your own private garden oasis.

While I may have grown up in a small Ohio farm town, I spent the last 23 years living in one of the biggest cities in the world — Los Angeles.

When people think of LA, they usually conjure up images of movie stars, traffic jams, smog and surfing, not gardens. I think this is a bit sad because despite its urban heart, LA has a wealth of gardens, both decorative and productive. I see more evidence every day that the city is finding new and innovative ways to garden among the skyscrapers and freeways.

It seems like there’s is a new movement afoot here to convert lawns into gardens, grass into vegetables and thirsty gardens into sippers more appropriate to our natural climate. Front yard vegetable gardens were unheard of when I first moved to LA in 1986. In many places, they were banned by homeowner associations and restrictive convenants. That’s why it was such a pleasure to see that streetside garden last year. Over time I watched as their plants burst forth with broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, herbs, tomatoes and more — all in a garden more beautiful and productive than any expanse of manicured lawn.

If you live in an urban area, take a second look at how you might garden among the houses and skyscrapers. Can you make a small, raised bed in your lawn? How about some pots of herbs and tomatoes on your balcony? Maybe you can get your own plot at a local community garden — something that’s very popular here in LA.

Here are a few links that you might enjoy to help you plan your new garden:

* I Habitat Starter Guide to Urban Gardening
* Gardening Laws and Ordinances

You can have your own garden just about anywhere if you give it a try!

Writer and podcaster with several blogs and podcasts, including A Gardener’s Notebook at I grew up in a small Ohio town, gardening at the knee of my grandmother and father, but spent a long time living in apartments in the big city of Los Angeles. After 10 years, a lovely house was found in the Van Nuys area of the San Fernando Valley and this home came with mature gardens and not a spec of lawn. It was time to start gardening again — and A Gardener’s Notebook was born. You can also find me on twitter at @douglaswelch.