Life in the big city has much to offer, but for green-thumbed individuals a lack of agriculture can be frustrating. Luckily, many cities in Germany have plenty of options for getting your hands dirty.
Horticulture in the home
If you are living amidst urban asphalt and concrete and sorely missing flora, creating a green oasis within your home is an easy and affordable solution. Watering indoor plants regularly and looking after a kitchen herb garden doesn’t take much time or effort. If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony, you could even set up a small vegetable garden. Tomatoes, for example, are easy to grow and promise fast yields. You can grow plants which are specifically suited for small spaces and balconies--such as impatiens, pansies, verbena, or marigolds--but you can also experiment with other varieties. Be sure to find plants which are suitable for the weather conditions in your area, and can handle both full and partial sunlight.
Your own city garden
If your apartment is too small, Berlin, Leipzig, and many other cities around Germany offer allotment gardens which are available for rent. Not only is a garden plot an excellent way to create your own green space in the city, but it also provides a relaxing retreat for the whole family. It’s perfect for cultivating plants that require more space and care, such as potatoes, pumpkins or even fruit trees. If you’re interested in learning more, contact the Bundesverband Deutscher Gartenfreunde, the Gartenamt, or your local allotment garden association. The cost for maintaining a garden plot in Berlin averages scarcely over one euro per day. Since you usually take over the inventory of the previous tenant, the new owner will additionally pay between 2,000 and 5,000 euro for the transfer. A drop of bitterness: due to the high popularity and demand, your name may need to wait on the association’s waiting list for a while before appearing on the garden house door.
Community gardens are an excellent counter to urbanisation, making use of unused or neglected areas while painting the city a little greener. They’re generally accessible to all those who are interested and willing to participate and help. In addition to contributing to environmental sustainability, joint gardening can help with education, communication and integration within the city. Among the best known community gardens in Berlin are the Princess Gardens (Prinzessinengärten) at Moritzplatz and the Himmelbeet in Wedding.
The green rebellion
Any plant lovers who also have a rebellious streak may want to try their hand at guerrilla gardening. This has been a popular form of peaceful protest since the 2000's, especially in London. Flower seeds are scattered on bare sidewalks, desolate traffic islands, or unsightly wastelands to make them more attractive and to encourage a thriving plant population in the city. Some criticise this ecological activism for being illegal, since it’s not allowed to plant public areas without permission. However, others insist that there is no more beautiful form of civil disobedience than sowing peaceful flowers.
Whether at home, in a garden plot, or within your community, there are plenty of opportunities for city dwellers to satisfy their agricultural appetites. Even a simple house plant can make a difference in your quality of life by improving the air you breathe and providing a little greenery in a grey city landscape. Give it a try!
If you’re interested in an apartment with plenty of space for a garden, check out this ground-floor unit with a private terrace, or this undeveloped loft apartment with a large sun terrace.