Apartment Gardening Basics for Beginners

We recently took a look at market gardening which is the art of turning your plot of land into a working farm.

Today, we’re on the opposite end of the scale with apartment gardening.

Apartment gardening is the ability to grow food to eat for your own table, absolutely everywhere including in an apartment. If you are vegan this is a great way to control the quality of ingredients in your plant-based meals.

One thing you should be aware of, before we start, is that there’s absolutely nowhere that’s “too small” for you not to be able to grow anything.

Some herbs, fruit, flowering plants, and even vegetables are quite fine to grow anywhere and as long as you have some containers and some sunlight, you have everything you need to get creative.

apartment gardening basics

5 Key Attributes To Consider For Growing Plants In An Apartment

OK, before we start – you need to know what it is that plants need to grow in an apartment. You don’t need a “green thumb” though it might help, that’s something you can develop over time.

  1. Sunlight – and by that we mean a day of sunlight. Plants eat by a process called photosynthesis. The “photo” part means light and it has to be sunlight. So, you may need to search out a balcony or a rooftop for your indoor plants to sit on. If you really can’t get a full day of sunlight anywhere then some herbs and some leafy greens can grow with less light.
  2. Soil – plants need to be planted in something. This is generally a pot with some potting mix (a specific type of soil) that they can grow roots in and draw nutrients from. Outdoor plants, of course, just go in the soil itself.
  3. Water – potted plants may drink a lot of water. In fact, some needed watering more than once a day, so think about where you can keep them close to a water source. Trust us, you don’t want to have to run a hose through your living room.
  4. Protection – in your own apartment garden plants need protecting from humidity (use a little misting spray to cool them down) and from the wind (create a wind block to prevent them from being blown away). Window boxes can be good for this.
  5. They can be heavy – a pot full of soil and plants and water is a very heavy thing. You need to make sure that wherever you put the pots, that their weight is properly supported and that they won’t damage anything. Indoor apartment gardens are best when they don’t fall through the floor or break book cases as your plants grow.
gardening for beginners

What Should I Grow In My Apartment Garden?

It’s pretty clear that you won’t be growing coconuts in the average apartment.

You have to work with your space and choose plants that will be fun to grow and not dominate the entire space.

So, the ideal items for most people won’t grow too tall and they won’t grow too wide either. Choosing plants is simple once you give some serious thought to the small space you will grow them in.

The good news is that experimentation is cheap and if you get something wrong, it won’t cost a fortune for you to fix it.

grow food at home

So, let’s take a look at the plants that might work best:

  • Strawberries. Easy to pop on a window ledge and super tasty. You can easily grow them in nice moist soil as long as they get at least 6 hours of sun.
  • Chili peppers. Peppers give fruit pretty much all the time which makes them a great choice for an apartment garden. Chilis are easy to grow, sweet peppers take a bit more effort.
  • Herbs. Herbs are super for adding a burst of flavor to any meal and they often work really well in small pots. Herbs won’t last forever though, if you’re eating them, you’ll need to buy replacements every now and again.
  • Salad leaves. Any green leafy vegetable that’s good for a salad is likely to have shallow roots and grow really quickly. The only thing you need to do is make sure they’re watered, they’ll grow in pretty much any environment.

Once you feel confident with these suggestions you can easily branch out and experiment.

You may also want to ask at your local garden center for tips on what works well in your local climate,

How To Care For My Apartment Garden?

There are essentially four tasks that every apartment gardener needs to undertake on a regular basis to keep their food growing and their plants healthy.

indoor gardens
  1. Water the plants. Look if the soil dries out, plants will start to wither, let it go long enough and they will die. Even if you get rain on your plants, it’s often not providing enough water for them – and in pots, soil quickly loses moisture. To make sure it’s wet enough push a finger down into the pot about two inches and if it feels dry, add more water. You may need to water more than once a day too.
  2. Feed the plants. Plants do derive nutrients from the soil in the wild but that’s because there’s a lot of soil around. In a pot, they’ve only got the little bit of soil they grown in and the nutrients are soon used up. Get a water-soluble fertilizer and add it to your watering can. Then you can feed and water them simultaneously.
  3. Harvesting. When your plants have borne fruit (or vegetables or herbs for that matter) there comes a time when you’re going to want to eat them. The trick is to learn when things are just ready to be picked and then pick them. Leave things too long and they may wither and die “on the vine” so to speak and you may also prevent the production of more produce.
  4. Pest/Disease Control. Plants are just like us in that they can’t avoid getting sick at times. You just want to make sure you keep an eye on them. You can’t use natural pest control indoors and may need to use a mild pesticide for bugs. For diseases, look up the problem and try to treat it. Always move sick or infested plants away from the other plants to reduce any chance of spread.

Final Thoughts on Apartment Gardening

Growing food in small spaces can be a lot of fun. It adds variety to your diet and better helps you to connect to the world around you.

If you want to know what to do with your produce if you can’t eat it fast enough – check out our article on the best food dehydrators and learn to preserve it!


SUGGESTED READING: Book Review: The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners

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