There are few things that are more special to a Maltese person than some freshly cut basil and tomatoes on a crusty slice of awesome Maltese bread.
But this not-too-long-ago commonplace act is becoming more and more rare, as people are forgetting the ways of our forefathers, and not including any green areas or spaces in their urban homes.
In Malta, unlike in major cities like London or New York, you are never too far away from some fields. Yet, so many Maltese people still buy foreign tomatoes imported to Malta, or buy packs of basil and other basic herbs from the supermarket.
With places like The Veg Box and programmes like LifeMedGreenRoof project at the University of Malta promoting innovative ways of incorporating greenery into our modern urban lives, here are some simple tips on how to benefit from urban gardening.
1. Go vertical
The central rule of doing anything in small spaces is to firstly use up your vertical space as much as possible. It is probably empty, and when you start looking at it you’ll begin to realise how much more space you have then you previously thought.
You can get a variety of items to make use of your vertical space: wall-hanging plant holders, vertical planters, and even vertical garden holders.
And don’t be afraid to think outside the box: any leftover items can be used in your urban garden.
2. Create green roof as insulation
Starting a garden on your roof is a genius thing to do in Malta.
It helps in insulation during both winter and summer, warming and cooling your home respectively. And if there are enough roof gardens in one area, they can actually reduce the overall temperature.
3. Bolster your solar panels
Have solar panels on your roof?
Their efficiency is lowered once the temperature goes higher than a certain point. Luckily, green roofs moderate the temperature, make them an ideal complement to solar panels.
4. Utilise your free space
Do you have an empty wall? A bald balcony? Even just a wide, lonely windowsill?
All of these places are perfect for growing things like herbs or berries – don’t be afraid to stick a plant in any of these spaces.
5. And use your outdoor space wisely
From a small indoor yard, as is typical in Malta, to any outdoor space that you’ve left empty, a little work can turn the place into a green paradise.
And if you are living in a block of apartments, a communal garden might be a good idea – a lot can be grown in a small space.
6. Use multi-tiered platforms
A lot of Maltese houses have little extra space, and that which is extra, is usually small. It’s best to use this space in the most efficient way possible – and a great way of doing so is multi-tiered planters.
And you don’t need to buy them, you can use things you might have lying around the house to build them.
Remember those CD racks you still have lying around the house? Welcome to your new multi-tiered planter.
7. Use plants instead of air purifiers
Plants trap heavy elements in exhaust and air pollutions, creating healthier communities through better air quality. Having even a few plants around the house is a sure fire way of ensuring you and your family are breathing in cleaner air – especially if you live in traffic-congested areas.
8. Grow something that will grow all year long
One of the most obvious benefits from having an indoor garden is all the awesome and super fresh produce you will now have access too. You should definitely grow your favourite herb, but herbs like basil, mint, chives, parsley and coriander grow in all seasons.
9. Brighten up the dull corners of your house
Beyond the health and food benefits of a garden, there is one final benefit: making your place look great! Popping a plant, or a few plants, into a dull room can work wonders.
Be it your office, your bathroom, or your bedroom, add some greenery into the mix.
It’ll clean your air, soak up humidity, and add a splash of colour where it’s needed.