Growing a garden at an apartment might sound like an impossibility, but it’s not. Even if you have no sunlight or no place to put any soil, there are options for you. In most cases, you can get started very cheaply and maybe even for free. Learning how to garden in an apartment can really pay for itself.
Producing your own food is a great way to get vegetables that are tastier than what grocery stores offer, that are cheaper (because you’re doing all the labor) and that come from soil you know and having nothing in them but what you fed them. It’s also a very relaxing hobby that can bring some life into an otherwise dull apartment experience.
How to garden in an apartment
- Square foot gardening is one of the first concepts you’ll want to learn if you’re dealing with very limited space. It’s an organic gardening concept that relies on compost and makes a point of utilizing every inch of soil you have. These methods allow you to grow a surprising amount of vegetables in a small space.
- Better Homes & Gardens offers a great online resource: design your own garden online by dragging and dropping the plants you want into their grid. This tells you how many of each plant fit in that space.
- Container gardening is a great way to keep a balcony garden neat and tidy. You can mix it up with some of the concepts from square foot gardening to make the best use of your space. Container gardening is just what it sounds like: growing plants in pots. The concept is pretty simple: just find out what will grow in certain size container, buy the right soil, get the planting and tending instructions, and do the work. Oh, and mark the containers so you know what’s in each of them.
- So, you don’t get any sunlight at your apartment. Like, ever. At all. That’s okay. An indoor greenhouse allows you to do just that. You can scavenge most of the supplies, or buy them cheap at garage sales. The biggest expense is the “grow lights” you’ll need to give the plants simulated “daylight.”
- You can make your own plant food and compost in an apartment. The composting is slightly tricky and takes some work to set up, but it’s an awesome way to use peels, leftovers, etc.
Things to know
If you’ve never gardened at all, the first thing you need to know is: it’s not rocket science. There’s a little research to be done, so you’ll know what each plant needs. Getting started takes some planning and may require a few experiments. The maintenance is pretty straightforward – mostly just watering. And then you’ll need to know when to pick your produce and how to go about that. It can be a lot of work at first, especially if you’ve always known veggies as things that magically appeared in grocery stores. But it gets easier the longer you do it.
Also remember not to get frustrated if you lose a plant or a crop, or the birds or bugs get to it before you can. These things happen. Some experienced gardeners make it look easy to avoid these mishaps, but that’s because they’ve been doing it long enough to develop an instinct about it. You’ll get there, too.
If you’re uncertain of your gardening skills, tomatoes are a great plant to start with. They need a fair amount of sunlight, but if you have that, they’re hearty growers that defy almost every mistake you throw at them.
Be aware that pets, especially cats may make things difficult. For example, cats like to knock plants over, dogs like to dig dirt and pet birds may chomp on food items that are poisonous to them. You can still grow food around pets. You just need to be aware and take precautions. If you can grow your food on the balcony, for example, and just never let the pet roam around out there, you’re all set.