Harlem Gardening Tips: Cultivate Green Spaces In The City

April 13, 2024

Whether you have a sunny window sill or a small backyard in a brownstone, gardening in Harlem can be rewarding and therapeutic.

Here are some great expert tips tailored for our community to help you grow indoor plants, create herb gardens, and maintain vegetable patches right here in Harlem.

Indoor Plant Care

Choose the Right Plants: Opt for houseplants that thrive in indoor environments with limited light, such as pothos, snake plants, or peace lilies.

  • Tip: Select the varieties that best suit your space, place, and aesthetics.

Provide Adequate Light: Place indoor plants near windows that receive indirect sunlight.


  • Tip: Rotate plants occasionally to ensure even growth and prevent leaning towards light sources to help save a little money.

Water Wisely: Avoid overwatering by allowing the soil to partially dry out between waterings (this is key since we know some of us like to overwater – sometimes).

  • Tip: Use room-temperature water and ensure pots have drainage holes to prevent root rot or a drainage dish.

Monitor Humidity: Increase humidity for tropical plants by misting foliage or placing a humidifier nearby.

  • Tip: Grouping plants can also create a microclimate with higher humidity.

Small Herb Gardens

Start with Basics: Begin with easy-to-grow herbs like basil, mint, parsley, and chives.


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  • Tip: These herbs thrive in containers and can be used fresh in cooking.

Container Selection: Use well-draining pots or containers with adequate depth for root growth.

  • Tip: Consider repurposing household items like mason jars, wooden crates, or ceramic planters.

Sunlight Requirements: Herbs prefer at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

  • Tip: Place containers near windowsills or on balconies where they can receive ample sunlight.

Regular Harvesting: Pinch back herbs regularly to encourage bushy growth and prevent flowering.

  • Tip: Harvest herbs in the morning for optimal flavor and freshness.

Backyard Vegetable Patches

Choose Suitable Crops: Select vegetables that thrive in urban environments and limited space, such as tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and radishes.

Prepare the Soil: Amend soil with compost or organic matter to improve fertility and drainage.

  • Tip: Raised beds or container gardening can be ideal in places like Harlem.

Spacing and Planting: Follow spacing guidelines on seed packets or plant tags to avoid overcrowding.

  • Tip: Succession planting can maximize yield throughout the growing season.

Watering and Mulching: Water deeply and consistently, especially during hot weather.

  • Tip: Mulch around plants to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Seasonal Planting and Care

Spring (March-May):

  • Start seeds indoors for warm-season crops like tomatoes and peppers.
  • Plant cool-season vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, and peas outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked.

Summer (June-August):

  • Provide shade or protection for heat-sensitive plants during the hottest months.
  • Water regularly and harvest crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans as they ripen.

Fall (September-November):

  • Plant cool-season crops for a late harvest, including kale, broccoli, and carrots.
  • Extend the growing season with row covers or cold frames.

Winter (December-February):

  • Focus on indoor gardening with low-light houseplants and herbs.
  • Plan for next year by ordering seeds and planning garden layouts.

By following these gardening tips, you can transform your Harlem home into a green oasis and enjoy the pleasures of growing your own plants and vegetables, right in the heart of Harlem.

Remember, gardening is a journey of discovery and patience.

Embrace the process, learn from your experiences, and enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labor!

Editor’s note: Any gardening tips from gardening veterans please leave them in the comments section.

Photo credit: 1. Convent Garden. 2) Flowers in Harlem.


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