Over the past few years, I've embarked upon a project to examine the feasibility of urban gardening. I've installed a hydroponic garden, aeroponic garden, some vertical gardens and a number of 'earth boxes' in my modest 100 sq. ft patio area. Over the years, this garden has been a mini cornucopia of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, lettuces, kale, broccoli, artichokes, peas, beans and many other produce staples. It largely provides most greens for my two-person household as well as beautiful flowers for the local hummingbirds. The urban gardening started in around 2007 when I began growing tomatoes. Since then, I initially added raised-bed planters as well as hanging planters for herbs.
In 2009, I added a hydroponic garden which has proven to grow certain greens and tomatoes more robustly than my soil-based gardens. The one drawback is that the gravel in the containers did not work well after one harvest and had to be replaced with hydroton clay balls as the growing medium. Hydroponic arrangements such as this one use a bit more water and nutrients than other designs that I've seen.
In 2013, I've added some vertical gardens, including a aeroponic "Tower Garden" and some vertical tomato planters. I've been very impressed with the Tower Garden's performance in growing leafy vegetables and herbs. Most recently, I've begun experimenting with fruiting plants, such as squash and cucumbers in this aeroponic planter and comparing its growth to the same plants in my hydroponic and soil-based planters. To see a 2-minute video of the garden on April 19, 2013, click here. You will see tomatoes (that grew through the winter), peas, lettuces, broccoli/brussel sprouts, assorted greens, edible flowers and assorted other vegies. Oh, and the obligatory hummingbird flowers! In the 2013 summer, I grew tomatoes, beans, squash, cucumbers, peppers, some root vegetables and summer greens. The cucumbers and squash got hit hard by powdery mildew, but the others thrived.
As of 2015, the horizontal hydroponic has been replaced by a Tower Garden and the entire backyard is producing enough herbs and vegetables to feed two people fairly comfortably, as well as a host of hummingbirds, butterflies, orioles, and other birds.