One of the advantages of apartment living is that you don’t have a yard to take care of. Unfortunately, one of the disadvantages is that you don’t have a yard for gardening. Although that last part is not exactly true because you can actually start a garden in your apartment.
Gardening with a balcony
If you have a balcony, or similar outdoor space, then you already have most of what you need for a great apartment garden. Even if it’s a tiny space, you can grow a variety of food crops in containers including:
You don’t need to buy flower pots from the garden store; you can use any container as long as it’s large enough. For example, five-gallon pickle buckets make excellent planters. If your area uses recycling tubs and has traded them in for large recycling cans, you can use the old tubs as planters. You can also use woven baskets, two-liter soda containers, and even old purses.
If you are using a clear container, you need to cover it with an opaque cloth or a black garbage back to prevent sunlight from damaging the roots. If you are growing vine crops, like grapes or pole beans, you can stick tomato cages, wooden dowels, or something similar into the container to give the vines something to climb. You also need to either put a layer of gravel beneath the soil or poke holes in the bottom of the container to allow proper drainage.
You can grow the plants from seeds or buy grape vines and other plants from an online retailer or a garden store.
Gardening without a balcony
Gardening without a balcony, or other outdoor space, is slightly more problematic but totally doable. The keys to gardening indoors are making sure the plants have enough sunlight and that you protect your surfaces from water damage.
If you have a lot of windows, you could set up a table-top garden in front of the window that gets the most light. If you don’t have a lot of windows, you can use grow lights as a substitute. In fact, even if you do have window space, it’s actually a good idea to supplement the natural sunlight with grow lights. Chances are that window won’t have the 14 to 18 hours of sunlight you need for optimal results.
Protecting Surfaces from Water Damage
Your best bet is to select a space that is already water resistant, such as a tile floor. If you don’t have a water-resistance surface, you can create one by lining a large box lid with a tarp and placing your planting containers inside. Another option is to use containers that have water guards, but you should still place them on a plastic tarp to protect against overflow.
In addition to light and water guards, you also need to consider the type of plants you want to grow, the humidity in the space, and the type of growing medium you use.
You can grow almost any type of plant in an indoor garden; your only limitation is the amount of space you have. For example, plants like strawberries and squash tend to spread, so you need to have enough room to allow the tendrils to branch out; the same goes for vined plants.
If you’re growing plants over the winter months, your space might be too dry for your plants. If the tips of your leaves are browning, if your plants look withered, or if the leaves are dropping off, they probably need more moisture. You can increase the humidity by misting the leaves each day, in addition to regular watering, keeping a container of water near the plants, and running a humidifier.
Your growing medium should be loose and porous enough to allow decent water drainage. This is true for indoor and outdoor containers. A good potting soil with built-in fertilizer is an excellent choice for any container garden, especially if it is specifically labeled for container gardening.
By starting a container garden, you can not only make you apartment as cozy as a house, you can also have the gardening potential of a house.