10 ways to live a green urban life

Jane Griffiths at work. Picture: Supplied

Jane Griffiths at work. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 13, 2015


Cape Town - Do you live in the city but long for a bit of rural green in your life?

Expert Jane Griffiths offers top ideas on how to get a bit of soil under your fingers in your urban setting.


Plant vegetables in containers

Even the smallest patio, window sill or garden patch can boast a crop of vegetables. The rewards are large, even if the space is small. Many vegetables and herbs will grow in just about anything.


Establish a rooftop garden

Edible urban rooftops take previously sterile and unused areas and convert them into productive and healthy living spaces.


Grow a company food garden

Whether you work in a multi-storey highrise, an office block or a converted house, there is sure to be a space somewhere for vegetables. From covering buildings with edible creepers, to growing pumpkins and spinach in the parking lot, a flourishing corporate vegetable garden is easy to achieve.


Initiate a community garden

Community vegetable gardens are springing up in many urban spaces, from neglected bowling greens in middle-class neighbourhoods to unused land in informal settlements.


Grow food on your pavement

Planting an edible pavement does more than provide food for people in need, it connects the gardener with the larger community.


Keep hens or bantams

Hens in our urban gardens provide us with healthy, free-range eggs plus nutritious manure for our compost. An additional bonus – they eat the slugs and snails.


Set up a bee hive

Like the idea of harvesting delicious honey? Keeping an urban bee hive is simpler than you think. You can learn to do it yourself or ask a professional beekeeper to help. Either way, you will be doing your bit to keep these important pollinators alive.


Harvest rainwater

We are a semi-arid country with below average rainfall and we have to take water conservation seriously. It begins with each of us saving every drop we can. Setting up a rainwater tank is easy and if you have limited space, you can plant a vertical garden on your tank, doubling its usage.


Recycle grey water

Instead of letting shower or bath water go to waste, recycle it to use in your garden. About 60 percent of household waste water that leaves the home is re-usable as grey water. It might look a little yucky but it is perfectly safe to use in our gardens (if the proper precautions are followed), to wash cars and flush toilets.


Install solar panels

Harnessing just eight seconds of solar radiation could provide South Africa with energy equal to our annual electricity consumption. Solar energy is a renewable source that is freely available. By converting to solar, we reduce electricity costs and increase our self-reliance.

* Extracts from: Jane’s Delicious Urban Gardening. Sustainable City Living.


Inspirational gardening

Jane Griffiths is a television producer, writer, artist and traveller who has been growing organic vegetables and herbs for more than 20 years.

Her best-selling book Jane’s Delicious Garden has led to a vegetable revolution in South Africa, with thousands of home growers now following in her green footsteps. Her second book, Jane’s Delicious Kitchen, is a collection of great recipes for making the most of seasonal abundance.

Jane’s Delicious Herbs, her third book, covers everything you need to know about growing and using over 70 different herbs. Her books have sold more than 30 000 copies.

Weekend Argus

Related Topics: