As urban sprawl continues, we are seeing less and less green space. Farmland is sprouting with subdivisions, city parks are being crowded out, and ever-smaller residential lots feature more residence and less lot. People are becoming less and less familiar with the wonders of nature, and they are craving access to it.
Of course, from this necessity has come lots of creativity. Plants are remarkable things. They aren’t too picky about the particulars of their environment. As long as they have nutrients, water, light, and carbon dioxide, they are in pretty good shape.
It’s for this reason that even the most urban of dwellers can find a way to get a patch of Kentucky bluegrass or a strawberry vine (see our strawberry jam recipe here) to grow at their home. And they’re doing it in some interesting ways.
When you don’t have soil, how do you grow plants? This question would have once been considered ridiculous, but innovations in agriculture have made it a very legitimate query that has been answered in a number of ways.
Many people are familiar with hydroponics, the process of growing plants in some type of non-soil based arrangement. Many farms now incorporate hydroponics as an efficient and effective means of growing transplants for vegetables and other crops. Others utilize a dual arrangement between fish production, in which the waste water from fish is used to fertilize the plants, which cleans the water to return to the fish.
When an aerial view of a development shows more roof than turf, it’s time for turf to fight back–along with trees, shrubs, and flowers, and even fruits and vegetables.
Properly managed, rooftop gardens can produce an ideal location for city dwellers to escape the concrete and asphalt and to socialize with friends and neighbors. Thanks to their altitude, they provide a view that in many ways beats a natural setting, and they can even provide food.
Apartment buildings, offices, hospitals, and countless other structures are now integrating rooftop gardens as a way to help give back to the environment what was lost with construction. Parking lots also feature more green space, with grass strips and some trees mixed in among the curbs and culverts.
Tweaking The Traditional
There was a time when people thought they had to have a large piece of ground to grow a garden. While it’s true that space-hungry crops like watermelons and corn require a lot of square footage, other food crops aren’t quite so demanding.
People with limited space or just limited mobility are growing tomatoes in buckets, strawberries in hanging flower pots, and cabbage in their landscaping as a way to make use of what Mother Nature offers. Others are finding ways to construct raised beds that use more traditional methods but utilize space more efficiently.
Even grass can be done the same way. Why not grow a little patch of it on your high-rise balcony? It could be the perfect place to rest your feet on a sunny day.
As the world has always done, it has adapted to changing conditions. There’s not as much open land as there once was, but that doesn’t mean plants and their natural beauty have been squeezed completely out of our lives. Creative techniques for growing plants will always show up to keep the world growing.