Urban gardening tips for those with limited outdoor space


"The idea of having a garden where I can actually take the food out direct from my patio, so close by, is really appealing to me," said Rosalind Napoli, a West Los Angeles resident.

Napoli enjoys condo living, but has found previous attempts as an urban gardener challenging.

"I've tried before, but it's hard to make the time to get it up and running," she said.

Julie Chai, Sunset Magazine's senior garden editor, says first know what will grow and keep it simple. Seasonally, the time is now for tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. Choose starter plants instead of seeds.

"If you're just getting started, it's a little bit easier, I think, to start with seedlings. If you're more advanced and want specific varieties, then you can start from seed," said Chai.

However, lack of sun can limit what you grow.

"Basically, anything that's producing a fruit, like a tomato or a pepper, those are going to want some more sunlight, but things that are just producing leaves can take a little bit less," Chai said.

Fruit-producing plants need about six to eight hours of sunlight. If your garden doesn't get that much, try herbs, which need less and grow in a small space. But for tomatoes, dig deep.

"Typically, when we're growing tomatoes in containers, we suggest a large pot - about 16 inches tall and wide outside. They do get really big," said Chai.

To get more bang out of your gardening buck, you might try new plants by Burpee. Burpee's BOOST vegetables have actually been bred to deliver more antioxidants and vitamins than other nursery plants.

Plants selected for the Burpee line produce tomatoes, for example, that offer around 40 percent more lycopene and loads more Vitamin C when grown in the right conditions. They're sold at Armstrong, Orchard Hardware and Lowes.

But no matter what you grow, it's fun to pick fresh from your garden and it's a money-saver, too.

"Some studies show that it cost about $70 to plant your own edible garden, but you get about $600 worth of produce," said Chai.

There is more on edible gardens in Sunset's April issue. You can also check out "Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles," which costs $25.

Check out photos of tips for growing your own vegetables.

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