How to Be a Green Thumb In The Big City

A few months ago while running to meet a friend for a coffee, I passed by a house with the most beautiful garden that made me think of a scene from a Miyazaki cartoon, my favourite director and animator of all time. The house had all kinds of colourful flowers, trees and an astonishingly green grass. But what struck me the most was the part of the garden with all kinds of fruit and vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, lettuce and a number of apple and pear trees. I’ve always had a green thumb, but since I live in an apartment in Sydney, I don’t really have the chance to experience the beauty of gardening. Besides, I’m all about eating organic and healthy, so I really like the idea of growing my own food.


After the meeting, the picture from that house repeatedly kept appearing in my head and I seriously started thinking about finding a way to plant some vegetables on my second floor balcony. First I thought about planting some seeds in my mother’s garden since she lives on the outskirts of Sydney and has a very big yard, but we live pretty far away from each other, plus she’s surprisingly bad with plants. Once she managed to wither a cactus! Imagine that.

I was so desperate. The idea of getting some plants and growing my own food got me very excited, so I started asking around and hoping to find another hopeless gardener that lives in an apartment in the middle of the city who might have a solution. Luckily for me, finding that hopeless gardener was not as hard as I expected it to be!

While having lunch in the restaurant close to my home, I was talking on the phone with my friend and complaining about my “problem”, when all of a sudden Richard, the restaurant manager, started chuckling and said: “I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation young lady, but I may have a solution to your problem”. I immediately put my friend on hold and waited to hear to whatever he had to say to me. It turns out that Richard was a passionate gardener in his spare time, and living in a five story Sydney building made him find the perfect planters and turn his balcony into a fascinating floating garden. Literally.


His choice were large planter boxes that had a very good drainage system. I learned that planters must have drainage holes in the base that will permit the water to flood the root zone. Also, since these pots were self watering, they had a water reservoir incorporated in the base of the pot. Having that feature, all you need to do is fill up the tank once or twice a week and you’re good to go. But of course, it depends on what you’ve harvested because each plant determines the quantity of water it needs. Although he went with large garden vegetable planter boxes that offer enough soil volume to grow big vegetables, he told me that in the past he also used the smaller ones that are easily moved around and that they are the perfect choice for starters like me.

I couldn’t thank this guy enough! He and his wife were so polite, they even invited me to their dreamy garden – balcony and lent me some of their old garden vegetable planter boxes until I bought some of my own. “Nowadays it’s very rare to find young people like you who are interested in growing their own food” they said, “We would be more than happy to help you with your little project.” Once I cleaned my balcony and made some space for the pots, I bought all kinds of gardening books and started fertilizing. In just a few weeks my tomatoes were thriving and growing, and honestly, and I couldn’t be more happy about it.

Now, whenever me and my friends are cooking at a friend’s home, they always ask me to bring some of my home grown vegetables, which honestly makes me very proud of my little garden.“Why not buy some more garden vegetable planter boxes and start your own business? You would do an amazing job, plus more people will start eating healthy”, my friends encourage me every single time we get together.

Since I came across that beautiful house I keep on thanking God for giving me the opportunity to start gardening again. The last time I planted flowers was many years ago when I was still living with my parents. Now I have a beautiful garden, and although it’s not as big as the one that I was talking about in the beginning, I’m happy to have it and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

Author: Christina Stone

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