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How to Keep a Garden in the City.

It's been more than a year since I moved out of our ancestral home and started living in the city. And while I do love and enjoy the convenience of living in a place where everything is easily accessible - supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, even my son's school - there are a few things about our ancestral home that I miss from time to time. 

For starters, there's my niece and nephew, who lived next door to our old place. I miss their noise and laughter, and being able to see them, play with them, and shower them with hugs and kisses everyday. I miss my grandmother, who also lived in another house next door to mine. I miss going through her fridge and pantry, hanging out in her bedroom, and talking to her about random stuff. Most of all, I miss our sprawling garden, which was one of the best, and my most favorite feature of our ancestral home. Our garden had all sorts of plants - ornamentals, shrubs, climbers, creepers, trees even. My grandmother was the 'plauntie' of all 'plaunties', and she tended to her plants lovingly despite her chronic back pain. 

Sunshine and laughter - my mother and my grandmother in the garden.

When we moved to our new place here in the city, it never really dawned on me to start keeping a garden, let alone grow a plant indoors. But then COVID-19 happened, and this whole gardening craze started because people were confined to their homes and turned to all sorts of recreational activities to cope with the pandemic. I was one of them.

I started with a small Adolphi plant that I got as a gift from my sister-in-law, and the next thing I knew, our tiny apartment became some sort of urban jungle. My boys are not complaining, though, and they find it really funny whenever I'd come home with a new plant, new pots, or gardening tools on the rare occasions that I would leave the house to run errands or do the groceries.

The succulent that started it all.

If you're thinking of starting your own urban garden, here are some tips:

Size Up Your Space
Whether you have a tiny hallway, a small patio, a bit of a balcony, or an entire rooftop, you need to measure how much space you've got to give you an idea of how large your garden can be. For instance, majority of the houses for sale in Toronto have yards that are perfect for container gardening. Another option is vertical gardening which work well for apartment dwellers or people living in small spaces.

Pothos varieties.

Pot 'em If You Can't Plant 'em
Potted plants are the best option if you don't have gardening beds. In choosing the perfect pots, consider the following - what plants will you grow, how many pots do you need, will you grow multiple plants or different plants in one pot. Self-watering containers are a good option if you're a gardening newbie or a busybody that can't stick to a regular watering schedule. If you have limited space, you might want to consider using hanging pots or windowsill pots as well. 

Choose Your Plants Wisely
When choosing or shopping for plants, you always need to keep in mind how much space you have at home. Don't overcrowd your plants, and don't dream of growing plants that are too big for modest spaces. Choose plants that grow up rather than spread out. If you're leaning towards vegetables and herbs, only plant those that you will actually eat. Some urban gardeners grow plants that go together with their favorite dishes - like tomato and basil for their pasta, and rosemary and thyme for sauces, soups, and stews. 
Aglaonema varieties.

Follow the Sun
Make the most out of your gardening space by choosing plants that can thrive in different locations. Flowering plants love the sun, and will grow well in a patio that basks in sunlight or a bright windowsill. Plants with bright or variegated foliage are most suitable near bright windows, but out of direct sunlight. Snake plants, ZZ plants, and peace lilies are great for growing indoors, as they are known for their resilience and ability to proliferate even in dim corners.

Have Fun
Gardening is an activity that's good for the mind and body. It's a great stress-reliever especially during these times, and it's a fun and relaxing way to get in touch with nature, get some sunshine, and even work up some sweat. It's also a wonderful learning experience, especially for the first-time gardeners. Mistakes are inevitable, and you might end up killing a plant or two along the way, but you can always try growing them again. 

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