Homeowners don’t have a monopoly on growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs. With a modest amount of education and research, apartment dwellers can grow fresh produce indoors and on patios and balconies.
Why should you consider gardening in your apartment? Plants offer a host of benefits, including sustainability, oxygenation, and increases in productivity, creativity, cognitive performance, and memory retention. With more time than ever being spent at home as the world navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s even more reason to plant a garden.
First and foremost, check with building management about any rules concerning gardening. For example, balconies have weight limits, and plant containers can get heavy.
Here are a few key considerations for apartment gardening.
Study the light. Many herbs, fruits, and vegetables are sun lovers, requiring about six hours of direct sun per day to thrive. On a day when you’ll be home for most of the day, monitor where and for how long the sun shines in your space. If you don’t have enough light, consider an LED grow light. Some manufacturers make grow light bulbs that can be used in a regular lamp, if you don’t like the look of traditional grow lights, or choose varieties that will grow in partial sun, like garlic, scallions, and spinach.
Not just any pot will do. A full container of wet soil can be three times of one with dry soil, so a lighter weight material, such as plastic, is preferable. Research each plant’s container requirement. For example, cilantro needs a pot 20 to 28 inches wide and at least 10 inches deep to grow properly. Be sure to buy saucers for underneath all plants to protect the floor…and your security deposit.
Mind your soil. Successful container gardening requires a high-quality, well-draining potting mix so that air can circulate around the roots and keep them healthy.
Invest in a few supplies. You’ll want to have garden gloves, pruners, and a watering can on hand to make it easy to care for your garden.
Start small. Once you’ve done your homework, choose just a few plants to begin. This way, you haven’t made a huge investment while you’re learning what works and what doesn’t. Choose plants that are well suited for container gardening, such as tomatoes, hot peppers, Meyer lemons, greens, and strawberries. To boost confidence, pick plants that grow quickly and easily. For example, salad fare, including lettuce, spinach, arugula and other greens, are greater growers when you water them enough.
Water liberally. Understand that vegetables, fruits, and herbs will require a great deal of water. If possible, taking into consideration the lighting, locate the garden near a water source to make watering easy. Plants in containers dry out more quickly than plants in the ground, so check them often by sticking your finger into the soil to ascertain if it is dry or not.
Monitor humidity. Depending on where you put your plants, such as in a sunny windowsill, they may need misting.
Feed your crops. Determine when each type of vegetable, fruit, and herb needs to be fertilized. The easiest fertilizers to use are those that can be added to water. Put reminders in your calendar so that you can feed your crops on a consistent schedule.
Mind your pests. It might seem like you might not have to worry about pests and diseases with indoor plants, but they can be targets. When you water, make it a habit to also check your plants for insects and disease (evidenced by discolored or holey leaves). Snap a photo and head to a garden center for help diagnosing the problem and a remedy recommendation or search online for a solution. Depending on the problem, a DIY insecticidal soap mixture could solve the problem in a non-toxic way.
Growing your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs is a satisfying, delicious, and sustainable endeavor, and you can do it right from your own apartment. Solara Luxury Apartments offer tenants a perfect place to garden with private patios and balconies.