Start a Garden in your Apartment

I understand, some of you live in an apartment, or only have a little space. That’s OK! I lived in an apartment in North Dakota for two years. Our apartment was nothing special(no rooftop terrace, or yard.) It was a simple place, with sliding glass doors leading to a 4x6 covered balcony. If you don’t have a balcony, don’t worry! This post also applies to you!

In our little space, I grew tomatoes, greens, green beans, onion, lavender, basil, thyme and even sprouted a few pumpkin seeds. I couldn’t grow Jack O’ Lanterns from my balcony, but I wanted to see if the seeds were viable, and they were!

When I learned the term “container gardening,” it opened my eyes to so many possibilities. All of a sudden, my balcony wasn’t just a place to hold a grill and a chair, it was a place for a (short-term) garden! The sliding glass doors became a greenhouse. Container gardening gives almost everyone the freedom to garden, anywhere!

I’m no green thumb, either. In fact, I am perfectly capable of killing a fake plant. There’s no magic here, I just learned by a lot of trial and error, quite a few dead plants and some research! And that’s why I’m here! I want to share with you how I started a garden in my apartment.

Decide what you want to grow.

There are varieties better suited to container gardening, but don’t let that limit you. Really experiment with what you can/can’t grow. We love green beans, but I had zero luck with the bush varieties- typically recommended for containers. I planted my favorite vine variety, and they grew like crazy!

I sprouted an onion from a kitchen scrap, but it refused to grow anymore than that. I sprouted several tomato seedlings, but decided on keeping four. Two died, while the other two thrived under the exact same conditions. Apartment gardening really has a learning curve, but it is so worth it.

Don’t be afraid to buy some plants already sprouted. I did this with a few herbs and one tomato plant. It was easier to go this route!

Gather up some containers.

I personally wasn’t *super* concerned with aesthetics, so I went with the cheaper route. I used some clay pots I already had for sprouting, but for no other reason other than I already had them. Otherwise, here’s some common containers I use:

-Tomatoes: 5 gallon buckets all the way. You will need room for a trellis more than likely.

-Green Beans- 15 Gallon tub. Depending on your variety, you’ll most likely need a trellis for these. Balcony railing works great!

-Salad- I used a 10 gallon shallow round tub for my greens!

-Lavender- I bought a small plant and just stepped up as needed with pots. Lavender will eventually grow to a huge size and need a huge container. Unfortunately, mine did not survive the move to Tennessee, so I can’t tell you exactly how big.

-Kitchen herbs(thyme, basil, oregano)- I’ve grown these in everything from jars, clay pots and even in the ground. In my experience, I feel like mine have grown the best in old fashioned clay pots. Can you tell that’s my favorite type of pot, yet?”

Your garden can be as aesthetically pleasing as you’d like. Feel free to plant in decorative pots, or use your plants as part of your decor. You’ll need to factor in drainage for your plants. With buckets, it’s easy, because you can use a nail and hammer to make drainage. I buy the clear, plastic saucers for catching excess water. They’re cheap and they come in all sizes.

Buy/Make some potting soil.

I’ve heard of people composting in apartments, but I’ve personally never tried it. I just bought potting soil. You can purchase bagged potting soil for raised beds, but I just used regular potting soil.

Get started planting!

The best thing about container gardening is that you can plant in the dead of winter when there’s snow on the ground. You don’t need to wait for a growing season, but I will say, if you’re planting from seed and do have access to a balcony, really try to plant on those hotter days and take advantage of the sun. It will speed up your germination period tenfold. If not, that’s OK. I sprouted those tomatoes in March inside of my window. I almost threw them out, because I thought they wouldn’t sprout, but they did, just in time!

If you’re planting inside, don’t forget that your germination time will be increased. You won’t see those green sprouts in a few days, as you would if you were planting on a hot, sunny day outdoors. Especially if you keep your apartment on the cooler side, you will have an extended germination time.

Your own garden.

I would often move my plants from inside to outside when the weather was nice, but this is not necessary. You may see better results if you’re able to get those plants outside, but you’re still capable of growing so many veggies, herbs and fruits indoors.

What else can I plant in my apartment?

I personally did not try this, but I’ve read about other apartment homesteaders planting blueberry bushes, dwarf trees and even raising bees from a balcony. Check your weight limits for your balcony and talk to your landlord before trying these, but you are able to grow a garden right in your apartment!

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