Self-sufficiency seems to be one of the positive outcomes from the recent lockdown period. Not only are people starting to see the benefit of stopping to smell the roses every once a while, it appears a lot of us are also seeing the benefits of stopping to smell the basil, parsley, mint, and maybe even spring onion too.
“I do hope it’s something people hang on to,” says Prue Glazebrook, owner of Urban Eden, a home and gardening product design company she runs from Sydney’s Brookvale. “We should be so grateful for everything on our plates, and I think that added connection you get from growing it really helps us realise how lucky we are.”
Glazebrook grew up on a farm outside of Hawkes Bay in New Zealand’s North Island not realising how lucky she was to always have such a vast veggie garden and even orchards at her fingertips. “Just before dinner, mum would ask us to go grab some broccoli or parsley, and we’d just pop out to the garden and pick it.”
Relocating to Sydney, her big garden was replaced with a “bathtub-sized balcony” and growing fresh produce became much harder. Now, with Urban Eden, Glazebrook is on a mission to prove you don’t need oodles of space – or to be a gardening whizz – to grow your own plants, herbs and veggies.
Enter Urban Eden’s Vertical Garden – a minimal-space, self-watering garden bed that fits 24 plants. Available in black and ivory, it’s made up of six planters that either stack up or across (depending on your space) and it can be attached to the wall or stand alone on a mobile rack. The planters have been designed to fit regular nursery sleeve sizing, and there’s a water gauge on each row that tells you when it needs refilling. It also comes in a smaller size, a vertical planter that fits four plants.
Glazebrook reckons she’s made these planters about as fool proof as possible to boost rookie confidence. “I think people find it daunting trying to grow things themselves,” says Glazebrook. “No one wants to take something home for it to just die … [But] the design is very intentional.”
Thanks to some nifty water wells at the base of each row, your plant’s roots can reach through and take as much or as little water as they need. “Some plants are a bit thirstier than others. And especially in the summer here, things dry out quickly. Having the well at the bottom means you don’t need to worry so much,” she says.
In fact, she claims you can leave your plant babies and go on holidays for a couple of weeks without them dying.
She’s also starting up a 24/7 plant support hotline for all your plant questions such as are brown leaves are a good sign (they’re generally not), and what grows best in the bathroom (and no, we’re not talking about mold).
Urban Eden also sells vases (and supplies them to events and premium florists). But lockdown has allowed Glazebrook time to refocus on her roots of indoor gardening. “It’s hard to know what people will do once restrictions ease. But I do hope we’ll stick with all these nice things we’ve learnt.”