Grow Your Own Herbs
Even if You Live in an Apartment!
We can think of a lot of reasons to live in an apartment rather than a house. Apartments are often more secure, you have less upkeep to deal with, and they’re often more affordable. Single-dwelling homes have their own set of advantages, such as greater privacy and more outdoor spaces.
The one big drawback to living in an apartment is you have little if any land. A bit of land can go a long way to making you more self-sufficient, if for no other reason because you can grow some of your own food on it.
But, just because you’ve opted for apartment living doesn’t mean you have to give up on the opportunity to have fresh, nutritious, tasty, garden vegetables that you grew yourself.
You just have to be a little creative with your space, and you can have your own bountiful harvest by the time summer is on its way out. If you have even just a small balcony and a few containers, you can grow vegetables.
Those vegetables can help you cut your food bill, boost your nutrition, and make you more prepared in the event of social chaos or natural disasters.
Plus, starting a balcony garden is easy. Or if you have a single-family home and just don’t want to dig up part of your yard for a garden, these ideas can work great for a patio garden.
Let us share a few tips that come from a few of our friends who enjoy gardening…
A Simple Plan Gives You Lots of Veggies…
Even When Space Is at a Premium
When you plant a garden on your balcony, the containers play a big role in how successful your garden will be. Bigger containers – more than a foot in diameter – usually work better because the soil will hold water better and stay healthier, but pick pots that fit your space.
Pick containers that are appropriate to the vegetables you plan to plant in them. For root vegetables like carrots and radishes, use a container that’s deep enough for the roots to flourish. Choosing a container with straight sides (like a square or rectangular box) will help prevent crowding.
Tomato and pepper plants need a sturdy pot that won’t tip as the plants get heavier. For tomatoes, you’ll also want to put a cage around them to keep the plant from breaking at the base. Or you can get an upside-down planter designed specifically for tomatoes.
You can grow cucumbers, beans, and peas on your balcony as long as you give them something to climb. If your balcony wall has slats or bars, those can make the perfect climbing structure for these kinds of vegetables.
You can grow almost any type of vegetable you can think of in your balcony garden, but do a little research and select plants that grow well in your climate and that won’t get so big as to take over your balcony. Certain kinds of zucchini or melons, for example, may grow too large to fit comfortably on a balcony.
An Easy Guide to Happy Plants
Most vegetables thrive in full sun, so do your best to position your containers where the vegetables will get at least six hours of sunlight a day. Water your container garden daily. Containers dry out faster than a plot garden will, so make sure the soil for each plant stays moist, but not soaked. Occasionally add some liquid fertilizer to your water to feed your container plants.
Before planting, make sure each of your pots has a good drainage system. The easiest way to do this is to line the bottom of each pot with rough gravel before adding in the soil. Use a potting soil that’s designed for container gardening – you’ll get better results.
Want More Space?
When you have a balcony garden, space is always at a premium, so look for ways to make the best use of the real estate you have.
For example, consider buying a few containers that will hook onto and hang over the outside edge of your balcony. Suspended there, these containers will expand your growing space significantly. And they look nice, too. Just be sure to plant lighter vegetables like spinach, lettuce, or green onions in these pots so they don’t become too heavy. If that happened, the hooks holding them in place might give out!
One of the best ways to make the most of your limited space on a balcony is to plant vertically. A pallet is one cheap and easy way to create a vertical garden space. It works especially well for growing herbs and salad greens.
Getting Started Is Easier Than You Think
You can usually pick up a discarded pallet for nothing by asking the manager at your local grocery store or home center. Cover the bottom, sides, and back with landscaping fabric. Use a staple gun to hold the fabric in place. Make sure it’s stretched nice and tight – the fabric’s job is to help hold the soil in place, so you don’t want a lot of give in it.
While your pallet is lying flat, plant your first plants in the holes across the top. Fill the pallet with two large bags of potting soil, and plant the rest of your plants tightly in the exposed spaces between slats.
The trick to a successful pallet garden is to really pack your plants in tight, with little to no space in between so they hold the dirt in place. It’s also helpful to let the pallet lay flat for at least a couple of weeks for the roots to take hold and keep the soil in place. Then, you can lift the pallet up and lean it against a wall. You’ll have a beautiful garden that grows good things to eat while taking up hardly any space at all.
Advantages to Apartment Gardening
In some ways, gardening in containers on your balcony is actually easier than tending a garden plot. You have complete control over the soil. Bugs and slugs are less of an issue. Weeds are hardly a problem at all. You can even control the weather to some degree, moving your plants inside when the weather’s not agreeable.
With just a little time and attention, you can turn your apartment balcony or back patio into a miniature food factory that will help you be ready for anything.