With the interest in urban farming growing ever stronger, proponents lucky enough to have an outdoor patch can start thinking about the aesthetics of growing their own greens. Andrew Tsui Ka, the co-founder of Time to Grow, a green enterprise promoting sustainable living, says greens and salad veggies can easily be grown in commercially available "grow boxes", which come in a variety of sizes and contain everything you need to create a mini-farm at home. Of the two materials in which they are available, says Tsui, wood looks better than plastic, but the latter is more robust and long-lasting. The plastic systems are scalable, and, he adds, work a bit like Lego: you can assemble them according to the shape and size of the setting. Of course, you can always "dress up" your garden by encasing it in an outer layer of a material of your choice. People have also established gardens in recycled wooden crates and wine barrels, or in hydroponic systems made out of Ikea boxes. For the design-conscious who don't mind pricier kit, brands such as Lechuza have developed a range of self-watering, stylish planters, while Modern Sprout has a cool-looking hydroponic system. Typically, a small box, measuring 40cm by 50cm and 25cm in depth, weighs 30kg to 40kg, including soil, water and plants. Tsui says if they are placed on a balcony, structural integrity should be checked first: is it reinforced and connected to the main frame of the building, or a temporary add-on? Even the plants themselves can look good. Property services firm JLL's new organic urban farm atop the Bank of America Tower turned a plain concrete pad into a carpet of foliage, the ripening veggies providing design contrasts in both colour and texture. The first crop, harvested in late May, produced nearly 16kg of vegetables in a riot of colour - tung choi in white and green varieties, yin choi in purple and green - as well as fragrant herbs. The project aims to highlight the potential to make Hong Kong a more liveable, healthy and sustainable city, and its produce was donated to Hong Fook Church at Sha Tin through the NGO, Feeding Hong Kong. JLL's garden measured 1,350 sq ft, but Tsui says you don't need so much space. Sunshine is essential, though, as is a water supply. For a family of four, looking to supplement one or two dishes with a harvest of the day, a 50 sq ft balcony would be ideal to give a viable quantity of growth, but just 10 to 20 sq ft is "totally doable", says Tsui. The space will determine the type of veggies you can grow - large plants like eggplants and potatoes require more room. For the seriously space-deprived, it's still possible to grow a few cherry tomatoes on a windowsill. Italian architect Antonio Scarponi had apartment dwellers in mind with his systems, ranging from a windowsill herb planter to a mobile vertical garden, and even a tabletop "desk farm" made from Ikea boxes - an invention he calls ELIOOO. An indoor edible garden using Scarponi's system was showcased at Milan Design Week 2014. Another of his conceptual ideas is Globe/Hedron, a bamboo greenhouse designed to breed fish for the table and grow fresh vegetables on a flat rooftop. The system, Scarponi says, can feed families all through the year. Tsui says that by encouraging people, especially children, to get in touch with their food sources, society can live more sustainably. Scarponi gives home-grown food a design bent. "Design is a form of storytelling," the architect says. "I try to design things that anyone can build … engaging people as manufacturers of an idea."