Gardening in an Apartment
Have you ever walked by a garden store, noticed all the spring seeds and plants and thought to yourself, “I really wish I could garden, but my apartment is just too small?” Don’t let your space stop you from growing fresh, nutritious food! Thankfully, gardening in an apartment is even easier than creating a backyard garden. Using these tips, and some determination, you can grow just about anything inside the comfort of your own apartment.
Know your space
You can grow pounds of fresh produce on an apartment balcony, porch or even inside of a sunny apartment. Each space is different, and ultimately, making sure your plants get enough light, water, and space depends on how you are able to work with what is available.
An outdoor space, like a balcony, porch, or yard, is preferred and will yield the most successful garden. However, it is possible to grow fresh produce indoors, if you are able to provide enough sunlight, space, water and warmth to your growing plants. Adequate light is the trickiest problem to solve when gardening indoors. Plants typically need anywhere from five to eight hours of direct sunlight every day, but even if you can’t get that from your windows, a simple grow light will do the trick.
Additionally, mature fruit and vegetable plants require a lot of water. While you can certainly use a watering can or bucket, attaching a garden hose to a sink faucet saves time and is more efficient. In the long run, investing in a hose is a worthwhile purchase that will save you plenty of frustration. But if that isn’t an option, you can move potted plants into your shower or bathtub to give them a soak.
Be sure to check your lease or talk with your landlord before doing any serious planting outside or filling the balcony with pots of vegetables. Some leases specifically say that no plants are allowed on balconies, porches, or yards. When in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to ask. It would be a shame if all your hard work is ruined because you are in violation of your lease.
Containers are your Best Friend
Even if you can’t plant anything directly into the ground, you can still harvest loads of fresh fruits and vegetables every year. Pretty much everything you can grow in a garden; you can also grow in a pot! Growing your plants in a pot not only allows you to grow plants without yard space but is usually cheaper than filling an entire garden bed with soil and gives you the flexibility to move things around and get creative with your garden layout.
Garden containers are typically made of terracotta clay, plastic, or ceramic. Choosing what containers are best for your garden largely depends on personal preference. Terracotta pots have more airflow but are significantly more fragile. Plastic pots, on the other hand, retain more moisture but have less airflow and are less sustainable. Ceramic pots come in all shapes, sizes and designs but are breakable and often have poor drainage. When choosing a container, take your budget, apartment layout and plant needs into account.
If you are looking for budget-friendly containers, dig through your recycling bin! Re-using plastic containers is a more sustainable and less expensive option. With any container, make sure you have proper drainage holes drilled into the bottom to avoid any fungus growth or root rot. Also, pay attention to the size of the container and be ready to repot your plants when they outgrow the container they’re in.
It’s really tempting to plan an entire garden space, get all the supplies, and create an elaborate apartment garden in one day. But save yourself the time, money, and frustration and start small. The last thing you want to do is invest in all the right containers, tools, soil, and seeds and let it all go to waste because your garden is just too overwhelming. Depending on your budget, it also might not be feasible to make a large apartment garden all at once. Gradually add to your micro-garden as time, budget and space allows.
Start small by growing seeds on your windowsills. Herbs, microgreens, flowers, and salad greens are all relatively easy to grow indoors with a fairly low investment. Once you’ve conquered growing small containers of herbs and other seedlings, try your luck with bigger vegetables like tomatoes and peppers. Grow your garden space little by little, adding only a few containers at a time. If you notice that some of your plants aren’t successful, or you are feeling overwhelmed, scale back and focus on just a few plants. Part of the beauty of apartment gardening is the flexibility to have a garden that is as small, or as big, as you want it to be.
Try Things Out
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and experiment with new ideas! Let your imagination flow and find ways to incorporate your own style into the garden. Want to add gnomes to your space? Great! Want to try planting a burrito garden for a farm-fresh salsa? Yum! Make the garden space your own by customizing it to be a space you’re proud to show off.
Container gardening is ideal for customizing your garden exactly how you want it. Planting in pots gives you the freedom to try out different layouts, pot sizes, materials, and plants. If you don’t like the way it looks, or it just isn’t working out, try something else. Move things around until your garden is exactly how you envisioned it.
Don’t Give Up
There’s a good chance that not every plant will be successful on your first try, and that’s okay! If you don’t succeed the first time, try again. The initial investment for containers, soil, seeds, and tools might seem a little daunting, but the first year you start gardening is the most expensive year, and it only gets cheaper from there. Once you have all the supplies, try growing different plants and find what works for you…Maybe your apartment has just enough light to grow cucumbers, but not enough to grow tomatoes. Over time, you’ll learn what plants do really well in your garden and which don’t. With enough dedication, you’ll be able to craft the perfect garden space to harvest all the delicious benefits of fresh produce!
If creating a garden space in your apartment still just doesn’t seem possible, look for other resources. Check out local community gardens and see if they have any available beds for you to use. Get in touch with friends or family close by who might be generous enough to donate a corner of their yard for your garden. If you are really motivated, talk to local organizations and see if anyone would be willing to let you start a community garden space to make fresh produce more accessible to your entire neighborhood.
Apartment & Indoor Gardening Checklist