Grow your own: gardening fun in the city

The garden season is definitely upon us in Vienna.  Not only is everything blooming at the same time, we are experiencing crazy summer  temperatures in April, and the fresh meadows are already full of wildflowers.  I love being in green spaces, whether it is a garden, a park, or the woods.  Growing at least some of my own vegetables and flowers though, adds another level of satisfaction.

Container gardening

You do not need a lot of space to try your hand at growing your own batch of fruits and veg, a box or a few large pots on a balcony will do.   Many tomato varieties can be grown in pots, as can peppers, strawberries, lettuce, all herbs, and many more.  You can even plant fruit trees in pots – there are special varieties that do not require a lot of space and don´t spread out that much.

Barrel gardening
At Karlsplatz they grow wine and roses in barrels.

If you are just starting out, I have found tomatoes pretty easy to keep happy – as long as they get enough sun and are not rained on much.

Right now you can find organic vegetables from several sources in a lot of markets and shops.  A personal favorite of mine are the Arche Noah pop-up stores.  They also carry some uncommon varieties of vegetables.  Speaking of a bit unusual, there is an organic fig farm in Vienna, where you can buy fig trees and fruits, but also vegetables.  Fresh figs are available from July to October.  The Umweltberatung has a list of additional sources for your seeds and seedlings.  Of course you can find organic vegetable seedlings in most supermarkets as well these days.

IMG_6681_Terrace_veggiebox_Foto_KSvadlenak
If you arrange it smartly, a lot of vegetables can be grown in a small space.

Support pollinators

If you are going to just have flowers rather than vegetables, my advice would be to look for those that are good for pollinators and butterflies.  That means foregoing filled blossoms for the simpler, more original varieties.  Garden centers can advise you on “bee-friendly” flowers.  Some herbs make very pretty blossoms (e.g. chives, winter savory, thyme, oregano, dill) and are really attractive to pollinating insects.

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Some butterflies are fond of Echinacea.

Finding inspiration at flower markets and garden fairs

I love going to garden fairs.  You can see lots of beautiful blooms and accessories, and I usually pick up at least a couple of new plants, but it is also just fun to wander about and admire the colours.  I´ve gathered some tips on where to find inspiration in the next few weeks.

IMG_3508_Flowershop_Vienna_Foto_KSvadlenak
Plenty of flowers to be had in regular flower shops – but look for species that support pollinating insects.

 

Flower markets in Vienna – Vienna Gardeners offering their products at different locations.


Gartentag 2018 at the University of Veterinary Medicine – yes, the Vetmeduni Vienna also has its own little botanical garden.  On 4 May 2018 you will find a seedling market with various garden herbs, fragrant, medicinal, and aromatic plants, as well as organic vegetables and fruit plants.  A special for garden-loving pet owners: Which plants are toxic to animals? – expert advice!


Gartenfreuden – a type of fair in a gorgeous castle setting with flowers, vegetables, and accessories; Culinary offerings as well:   4 – 6 May 2018 at Burg Perchtoldsdorf; 1 – 3 June 2018 at Schloss Stainz. 


Citrus Days in Schönbrunn – Exhibition and sale of citrus plant variety, guided tours, and talks by experts from the School for Horticulture at Schönbrunn: 18-21 May 2018;  Presented by  the Austrian Federal Gardens and the Austrian Horticultural Society.


Salon Jardin – another fair, in the castle park of Hetzendorf: 25-27 May 2018 (Note: No dogs allowed in the park)


Natur im Garten Fest in LaxenburgTips and tricks for your own garden directly from the experts of the campaign “Nature in the garden”: 2-3 June 2018


Die Garten Tulln – not just for gardeners, a really fantastic space with many different garden types, offering workshops and all kinds of inspiration, a tree walk, and a playground.  Great place for a family outing.  You can even rent a boat and paddle through the adjacent very green wetlands.  Open until November.


Gartensommer Niederösterreich – all kinds of show gardens in Lower Austria


 

Want more space?  Try getting a vegetable garden allotment

If you are a bit more ambitious and want something larger than a few big pots, maybe allotment gardening is for you.   You may have noticed that there are more and more organic community gardens all over Vienna. The Urban Gardening in Wien website seems to have a pretty complete list of several locations with veggie boxes or lots where you can get involved in a community gardening project.

Have you ever noticed the farm-like scenery in front of Augarten, right in the heart of the city?  I think it is just gorgeous.

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The community vegetable garden at Augarten last July

Grow your own lots (between 20 and 80 m² depending on the supplier) can be rented and are sometimes pre-planted by farmers with a variety of vegetables, to which you can add your own selection according to your preference.  You do the watering, weeding, and perhaps fertilizing with organic fertilizers, and you get to take home your own bounty of vegetables.

There are many locations in several districts of Vienna.  The City of Vienna offers its own lots in the 22nd district in Essling.

 

No time for gardening, but love gardens?

If you do not have the time or inclination to garden yourself, but still enjoy discovering beautiful gardens, there are quite a few exhibition gardens you can visit in and outside Vienna.  Here is just a selection of personal favorites.

 

Museumsdorf Niedersulz
The Museum Village Niedersulz in Lower Austria has some wonderful farmland gardens.

 

I hope you find some of these tips useful.  Gardening is a fun and healthy hobby.  It´s a bit of managed nature in your own space or neighbourhood.

 

 


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