What You Need To Start Your Urban Container Garden

Posted on Jan 20 2011 - 3:58am by Mike Lieberman

A few weeks back when I posted a question on Facebook asking what posts people would like me to write, I was asked by Tim of Ecycler about a “hit list” for starting an urban garden.

I thought that it could be done in a short series, so here is the first part that includes what you will need to get started.

The list is short and pretty simple. It consists of:

Since I make my own self-watering containers, I need two containers to make one container. Got that?

There are many places that you can get the containers for your garden.

Once you have your containers there are four different ways that you can make the self-watering containers.

Potting Soil
If you want, you can make your own organic potting soil. When I was living in NYC, I made most of the potting soil for my fire escape garden.

Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve bought nearly all of the organic potting soil for my balcony garden from Whole Foods. You could also check your local nursery, garden or hardware store.

Seeds and Plants
I usually get my seeds from Botanical Interests. There are many other seeds companies out there.

Other places that your can get your seeds from are from seed swapping groups that are local to you or are online. You can also reach out to other local gardeners and swap with them. I did that with Mary from Mary’s Gardening Endeavors.

For plants, you should check your local farmers markets or nurseries.

That’s about all you will need to start your urban container garden.

What else would you include?


12 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Anonymous January 20, 2011 at 6:26 pm -

    Oh thanks for the shot-out!

    I would also add organic fertilizer to the list. The fresh potting soil will be rich enough but the plants will need supplemental nutrients at some point.

    Nice starter list though 🙂

  2. Mike Lieberman January 20, 2011 at 9:33 pm -

    Thanks for the seeds. Yup. Def would need to amend the soil.

  3. RebekahBright January 20, 2011 at 11:14 pm -

    I would add small pruning shears. Mine snap apart so I can also use each side as a knife.

  4. Mike Lieberman January 20, 2011 at 11:24 pm -

    C’mon. Use your hands 😉

  5. Junglemn January 21, 2011 at 1:53 am -

    i would like to add that if your in an apartment like mikey is that your growing space doesnt receive much light eithe buy some 6500* K lights or mirrors that you can hang and angle to re direct sun also this works best if you angle so that the rising or setting sun can hit your plants and is also reflected back on to the plant trust me some people say mirrors are a sin in the garden cuz icooks the plants but if your light level is low in the am or pm it wont hurt for mirrors i just dont recomend doubling up on light during the hottest brightest part of the day un less its diffused(like frosted glass ) and as for shears i would only use them to graft

  6. Mike Lieberman January 21, 2011 at 4:37 am -

    Good tip. Thanks.

  7. Lena January 30, 2011 at 1:48 am -

    Hi Mike,
    I’m following your Blog for a few weeks now, and I really, really like it – especially your low-cost gardening tips. I like your tips here so much, that I showed it to some of my friends who are into gardening too. While I was showing your tips, I came along a tiny problem: some of them are hidden “so well” that I can’t find them anymore, like how to make your own compost or soil. So here is a little suggestion: why don’t you change your “self-watering containers”-area into a “How to…” or “Do-it-yourself”-area and put all your ideas there, so they can be found easily?


  8. Mike Lieberman January 30, 2011 at 2:49 am -

    Thanks Lena. I like that idea. The tips aren’t hidden, just organized poorly.

    The organization of the content is one thing that I have been struggling with since I’m using a blog platform and my development skills are beginner.

    Over the next few weeks, I’ll see if I can do something like you suggested. I appreciate feedback and suggestion.

    Keep the suggestions coming and be on the look out for the new section.

  9. Claire July 16, 2011 at 5:32 pm -

    Nice post (and a welcome change to a lot of what is served up to me via twitter which is generic pablum with line ads interrupting the non-informative text).  Your ads are nice too 🙂  Will check out the seeds at Botanical Interest. Saw they had an African Zulu daisy that I had tried a few years back.

  10. Mike Lieberman July 18, 2011 at 12:56 am -

    Hahha. THanks. I know the type of sites you are talking about…mad annoying. Glad you found mine and are enjoying it. 

  11. carolee March 22, 2013 at 11:18 am -

    Thank you for your all information. I am 68 years old and disabled. Your self-watering containers have allowed me to garden easily from my scooter. I have made the 5 gal self watering containers and have the medium. Got my plants from my local farmers market. Can you tell me what is the best fertilizer to use for tomatoes, peppers, squash and such? Thank you.

  12. Rhea Brown July 17, 2014 at 8:33 am -

    Hey Mike. Love the NYC accent lol. I’m a newbie homeowner but I have a deck and when I had an apartment I wanted to start gardening but feared what the cold weather here in Maryland would do to the my garden.

    Thanks for your simple, easy to follow instructions and non-marketor style of spreading the message of growing.


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