Apartment Gardening for Beginners
So many of us live in small apartments, but you should still be able to grow plants. There are many herbs, vegetables, and even fruits that grow and thrive in an apartment garden. Start small with only a few containers while you continue to develop your gardening skills. There are a few factors to be considered. Such as how much sunlight is available and each container's weight. Let's get started with how to grow a garden in an apartment.
How to Grow Plants in Apartments
While some plants are more robust and kind to beginner gardeners than others, all plants have particular growing needs that you must meet. Here are some details to know as you're picking plants to grow in your apartment garden.
A large portion of fruiting and flowering plants need a full day of the sun. A full day of the sun means six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Getting that much sun can be challenging in an apartment, especially in a city with tall buildings that block the sun for most of the day. Rooftops and balconies are the best options for full sunlight. Based on the amount of light you receive in your apartment, you will choose either picking plants such as certain herbs and salad greens to grow or installing a grow light that can mimic the amount of light that the sun provides.
Soil helps the plants get the proper amount of water, air, and nutrients. Growing plants in containers are the most common way of having an apartment garden. You can't use ordinary garden soil in pots; it will limit the amount of air and prevent the water from flowing through the soil properly. Potting mix is the best choice; it will allow for the flow of air and water. The potting mix will be light and will allow the roots to thrive. It will also be somewhat sterile, which will help prevent unwanted bugs and plant diseases in your apartment.
Plants that use a potting mix and are in containers will need to be water more often, sometimes multiple times per day. Be sure to choose a spot in your apartment that is easy for watering. Transporting water around your apartment can be tedious and sometimes messy, especially if you have several plants. Sometimes a hose that can be attached to your faucet is the better option. Another option might be bringing your plants to your sink for water if they aren't too big.
Depending on where you live and where you are growing, like, in a window seal, you might need to provide extra moisture. One recommendation is to use a fine mist spritzer or place the plants near a humidifier.
Be cautious about the amount of wind around your plants. High winds can damage the leaves or even knock your plants over—a wind blocker such as a screen or railing can prevent damage. Another option might be to ensure your plants have a large, heavy pot to anchor it down.
Large pots can be hefty, and adding water will triple their weight. It is crucial to have your apartment garden where the spot can handle the added weight. Placing massive plants on wall mounted shelves can end in a disaster. If you are gardening on a balcony, be sure to check with your landlord if there are any weight restrictions.
Choosing the Best Plants for Apartments
Just about any plant will grow in a container. Full-grown trees like an apple or walnut tree might not work in a pot, but there are skinny columnar varieties that can grow in smaller environments like your apartment. When deciding what to grow in your apartment garden, choose plants that you enjoy eating, and try a few of them. Selecting to start from seeds will allow for a wider variety of plants. But nursery plants will get your apartment garden established faster.
Many herbs will grow well in containers; they won't get as big and bushy as they might when grown outside in the ground. If you harvest often, you might have to replace the plant more frequently. But it is nice to have fresh herbs to cook with for that special dinner. A couple of good apartment gardening choices include basil, thyme, lavender, chives, parsley, and mint.
Lettuce, spinach, arugula, and microgreens are fast-growing and have a shallow root. They are also easy to grow as long as they get the proper amount of water.
Tomatoes grow well in pots but can be large and heavy. Choose a container that is around 30 inches in diameter for best results; a balcony or porch might be the best option because of their size.
If you like spicy food, hot peppers grow very well in pots, and they set fruits year-round. Sweet peppers might be another option, but they usually don't do as good in a container.
Dwarf citrus trees are one of the easiest fruits to grow in an apartment garden. Meyer lemons grow well indoors if they get six to eight hours of sunlight and have sufficient humidity. Be cautious of the sticky sap that a lemon tree produces; it can ruin your floors if not dealt with properly. Try putting something underneath the pot to protect from any damage to your floors.
Beautiful and delicious, strawberries are lovely to grow in your garden. Strawberries do require at least six hours of sunlight.
Care for Apartment Gardens
There are several tasks required to grow your apartment garden, which include the following:
Watering is an essential task. Even if your garden is exposed to the rain, the plants will likely need additional water. When using pots, the soil will quickly dry out, especially as your plants grow in size. An excellent way to check if the plant needs water is by sticking your finger into the soil; if it is dry to the touch, it will need additional water.
It is essential to stick to a regular feeding schedule, keep in mind the individual plants growing requirements. Water-based fertilizers are usually the most straightforward option. Also, take into consideration if the soil mix has nutrients already.
Pests and diseases can always be a problem with gardens, no matter where you grow them. Be sure to check your plants when watering and when harvesting them. If you find pests or diseases such as a change in color or holes in the leaves, move the plant away from other plants. Moving the plant away from others will help protect other plants from getting pests or diseases. Once the problem is corrected, you can move it back.
Some research might be needed to find out when the best time is to harvest as it can be different for every plant. In some cases, harvesting can result in more fruits or vegetables.
Apartments don't always allow large amounts of space to indulge in gardening. But there's bound to be a sunny corner where you can test your gardening skills and enjoy the fruits of your labor.