Now Trending: Urban Gardening!

by Patrick Geraty, St. Louis Composting

At one time urban landscapes were viewed as barren and cold slabs of concrete, asphalt and glass. They were perceived as the opposite of the rural setting, rich in vegetation and greenery. However, throughout St. Louis City, residents are finding a way to reconnect with the natural world through gardening.

Urban gardeners are finding themselves in new environments with new challenges and limitations. Container gardening, rooftop gardening and even hydroponics are examples of how urban gardeners are adapting to these new conditions. In addition, communities throughout St. Louis are working together to share the sparse open space that exists in the city to create community gardens that provide them with fresh produce all year round and also add beauty to their neighborhoods.

Communities throughout the St. Louis Metro Region are pioneering urban gardening technologies and techniques. There are more “green roofing,” community gardens and urban gardening projects popping up every day.

Community gardeners and urban gardeners alike are finding that when times are tight, the most natural and cost-effective fertilizer is compost. The results are bountiful and fool-proof. These gardeners will attest that the single most important thing you can do to improve gardening success in your urban garden is build better soil. And the single best way to do that is to condition your soil with compost, the finest organic supplement known to humankind. Compost delivers five major benefits to the gardener, all of which help the environment.

Compost improves plant/turf quality. Compost decreases plant stress response to drought, disease and insects. Because of the intense heat generated in compost piles, compost contains no weeds, insects or insect eggs/ larvae. A big plus for serious flower gardeners is that compost has been found to keep moisture levels in flower beds too high for ants. Compost also reduces salt damage and provides nutritional balance.

The benefits of compost are long-lasting. Rain and watering cause chemical fertilizers to leach out of soil. Conversely, compost binds with the soil and releases its nutrients over a multi-year period.

Compost is economical. Just a single application can improve the efficacy of fertilizer used on lawns and gardens.

Compost strengthens soil structure. It helps to reduce the compaction of heavy soil in urban gardens, enhance sandy soil and increase both top-soil and soil fertility while rebuilding worn-out soil. Over time, compost makes the soil healthier in community gardens, rooftop gardens and all urban gardens.
Finally, compost can solve one of the biggest challenges encountered during urban gardening. It holds six times its weight in water, which reduces the need for and cost of irrigation.

Compost won’t transform your urban gardens overnight. But if you use compost during the beginning of these projects, you will notice the difference between compost-improved and unimproved garden beds. The compost-incorporated soil will have better texture, more worms and provide you with sturdier, healthier and more productive plants.

Just as Mother Nature can be glorious in her simplicity, one of her most basic products can make your urban garden its most bountiful – naturally. Get hands-on in your city with compost and reap the cost-savings. And start enjoying the unmatched flavor and health benefits that come with eating produce fresh from the garden – right in the middle of all the concrete, asphalt and glass!

Founded in 1992, St. Louis Composting, Inc. (www.stlcompost.com) operates the largest composting facility in Missouri and is the largest composter in the St. Louis region. It is headquartered on a 26-acre facility at 39 Old Elam Ave. in Valley Park, Mo. and maintains a four-acre transfer station at 11294 Schaefer Drive in Maryland Heights, Mo, a compost facility at 13060 County Park Rd. Florissant, M0, and an additional facility in St. Louis City at 560 Terminal Row St. Louis, Mo. It also operates a 52-acre composting and retail facility at 3521 Centreville Ave. in Belleville, Ill.