Having an apartment and a love of gardening is difficult. Because obviously, if you don’t have a yard, having a garden isn’t exactly possible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t grow things at all! Growing your own veggies can be a great way to reconnect with the food you eat. And it doesn’t have to be too much work. Keep reading for some simple tips for growing food in an apartment.
Tips for Gardening in an Apartment
Fortunately, growing food in small spaces has been done by many people, especially considering the growing popularity of urban farming! So don’t lose hope about growing food when you move into a little shoebox apartment. And if you feel like you don’t even know where to start, these tips should help you a lot!
Start with Seedlings Rather Than Seeds
My first tip, which I’ve found to be incredibly helpful, is starting with seedlings rather than seeds. I like doing this partially because I’m a bit impatient. (: I like getting quick results and seeing progress early on in the process. This motivates me to keep maintaining the plants, since it sometimes takes a while before you can eat them. Another reason to do this is that you can more specifically pick out what you’re getting, since the plant has already starting growing. Lastly, seeds are pretty high maintenance. If you’re inside, there probably isn’t going to be as much sunlight as there would be outdoors. Little seeds need a solid 8 hours of sunlight each day to get started. So it’s definitely a good idea to purchase plants when that growing period has already been done in a more controlled environment.
Buy From Local Gardeners
The reason to do this is not only to support local gardeners, but also to ensure that the climate you’re in is conducive to the growth of your plants. This way, you can expect them to do better once you take them home. Although, if you aren’t using a balcony or window plant, then you have a little bit more control over the climate within your apartment either way.
Start with 1 or 2 Plants
If you’re a first time gardener, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure by starting a humongous collection of plants during your first season of gardening. This is something that I’ve done and about half my plants ended up dying. (It was very sad…) So my suggestion is to start with only 1 or 2 plants. That way, you can give them your undivided attention and keep them from dying. Whether you have 20 plants or 2 plants, you’ll still be proud of yourself when you finally get to pick that veggie off the vine and eat it, knowing that you worked hard helping it grow.
Use the Proper Containers
Because you’re not outside gardening in the ground, you have to carefully consider what container you are putting your plants in. Most plants do better the more space they have. This gives their roots room to spread out, allowing for maximum growth. Herbs are plants that will probably be fine in just a small little pot. But everything else should be in a container that holds at least 7 gallons. Even more is preferred if you have the space. Something I learned in the first year of gardening in my apartment was that you should buy planters with drainage holes in the bottom. And be sure to put a plate underneath to catch the drainage. You may need to empty this regularly. (Sometimes the plant will just kind of re-absorb it.) The drainage holes help to prevent rotting and allow for more space for oxygen in the bottom of the planter.
To be honest, I’m not an expert on soil. I will usually just pick some up wherever I’m getting my seedlings and that seems to work just fine. You could also buy it at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or some place similar. The same can be said for planter pots. If you’re looking for something particular or more fancy, I would talk to your local gardener, who is sure to be an expert on the subject.
Ask About a Community Garden
Because of the increase in urban gardening, many apartments actually have community gardens available to their residents. There are also non-apartment-affiliated community gardens in a lot of cities. Ask you apartment staff and do research about gardens in the area that you might be able to use. This is a great space to grow plants that are unable to survive indoors.
Research the Needs of Your Specific Plants
Each plant has slightly different needs, with regards to water, soil space, and sunlight. It’s important to do some research ahead of time to determine the needs of the specific plants that you want. This way, you’ll be prepared for how often you’ll need to water it, how big of a container it’ll need, and where in your apartment you should put it.
Plants That Are Easy to Grow In An Apartment
Not all plants are able to grow indoors. But fortunately for us, there are actually many plants that can do so successfully. Here is a list of some of them that you might want to try!
- Salad Greens (Romaine, Spinach, Arugula)
- Bell Peppers
- Green Beans
- Swiss Chard
- Green Onions
If gardening is truly something you want to do, you can make it happen, even if you live in an apartment. So use some of these tips to start growing some of your own food this year!