How To Grow A Vegetable Garden In Your Apartment

January 8th, 2007 by

Of the many things apartment dwellers lust for, a backyard is at the top of the list. If you are lucky enough to live in an apartment with a yard or patio, you may be able to grow a garden in part of the space. Garden growing in the city is not as hard as it sounds. With some basic supplies and a little hard work, you can grow an assortment of vegetables in your own urban backyard. We know it’s winter, but it’s not too soon to plan for spring. Before making any purchases, you’ll need to consider some of the following things.

Garden Access

The choices you make for your garden should depend in part on who shares it with you. The garden and backyard may be shared among all tenants, available only to those on the first floor or available to a particular tenant. Check your lease before you assume that you are the only one with access to the backyard. Your landlord may also have restrictions on what you can do with the space. If you have any doubts, check first before you spend time or money on your garden. If you share the space with your neighbors, consult them before planting anything as they may have a different vision for the garden. Working with your neighbors to create a backyard garden can help you get to know other people in the building and share costs and labor.

Get to know your backyard:

Different plants grow well at different conditions. Before you decide what you’ll grow in your garden, determine exactly how much space you will have to allocate to it. Some vegetables, like corn, require ample space and will not grow well in small lots. Others, like potatoes, require deep plots. You’ll want to assess the garden’s depth and make sure that there isn’t a layer of cement right below the soil.

Take some time to observe how much light the garden gets on average. The presence of tall buildings around your yard may leave the garden in shadows for much of the day. The yard may look sunny when you leave for work at 8:30 am, but make sure the sun doesn’t disappear behind tall buildings by late morning. If your garden gets limited sun, seek out vegetables that grow well in lower light. When you are ready to purchase seeds and small plants, consult your local nursery or the planting guides that come with your seeds. They will inform you how much light, space and depth the plants require.

When you don’t have a backyard

If your building doesn’t have a backyard, or if you are just one of the unlucky tenants without access to it, you can still have a garden. Many vegetables can be grown out of containers in your apartment. You can purchase containers or pots at gardening stores or use plastic bottles and basins that you already have at home. To allow for drainage, cut small holes in the bottom of the pots and line the bottom of each container with small rocks. Remember that potted plants need to be fertilized more often than outdoor plants. Make sure to keep your containers in an area that gets at least 4-5 hours of sunlight a day.

If you have a balcony or extra space to dedicate to your plants, you can grow vegetables that require larger containers, such as cauliflower and brussel sprouts. If your space is more limited, eggplant, peppers (both bell and hot), salad greens and herbs all grow well in smaller containers. Carrots will also grow in small containers that are sufficiently deep. If you are lucky enough to have a balcony, you can use it to grow plants that require structural support. Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and other vine plants require trellises, cages or poles to grow properly. You can use the beams and fixtures of your balcony as supports for these plants.

If your space is really just too limited for plants but you still would like a garden, do some research into community gardens in your neighborhood. Some non-profits and community groups transform vacant lots into gardens where local people can rent plots. These lush urban oases provide a wonderful escape from city life and can give you an opportunity to meet other people in the neighborhood. So if it’s a garden you’re after, don’t let apartment life stop you. With a little creativity you can bring a little piece of the farm to the city.

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13 Responses to “How To Grow A Vegetable Garden In Your Apartment”

  1. Guest Says:

    cute little apt gardening guide, just what i needed, for i am moving into my first apt and will dearly miss the backyard garden. but i think i can make due now that i have these ideas :)

  2. Guest Says:

    Hi there. Really want to grow veggies in an apartment home. These are great ideas but does anyone have more details? Soil, what kind of pots, where to place… what I can and cannot grow? REALLY want to grow squash. Is it possible and how? Thanks so much! By the way… no yard anymore… just a porch. (sob!) Please help!

  3. Guest Says:

    click on “larger containers” above in this article and there is a link within that article that leads to more details

  4. Guest Says:

    I have been using a make-shift earth box; the directions I found online for free. I used green storage containers from wal-mart w/o any problems. Directions for plants/fertilzer needs I went to the “earthbox site” for planting/fertilizer needs and covered with black-lawn and leaf garbage sacks (when plants come up covers them) or white-lawn bags if plants didn’t like heat. These are awesome. I had three earth-boxes but think the self made ones were actually better -one thing; i wish i had put them on wheels they are heavy once filled (add water wt as each has its own-3 gallons of water in there)! Plants do great/easy to keep bugs off and keeping pests off plants and roots are so great. I also now have a aerogarden but think I might look into off-brand versions for herbs/salad stuff inside…

  5. Guest Says:

    I am really interested in more information about yourvegetable garden. Can you put up photos and give some pointers on types of vegetables.

  6. Guest Says:

    can i grow a small plant variety of blueberries in my apartment’s west facing window, which gets light from mid day on in southern california?

  7. Guest Says:

    can i grow a small plant variety of blueberries in my apartment’s west facing window, which gets light from mid day on in southern california?

  8. Guest Says:

    If anyone on here with an apartment garden is based in Los Angeles, San Fran, New York or Chicago, please contact me. I am currently filming “Down to Earth”, a documentary on sustainable living starting with the food you eat. I would love to be able to show viewers that anyone can have a little garden, even apartment dwellers! Thanks so very much! KarmaFarma@gmail.com

  9. Guest Says:

    I’m chronicling my apartment gardening experience

    Erin

  10. Cheese Says:

    I have been growing a lot on my balcony this year too, and can definitely say that the point made about light in the article is very important. We have trouble with some of the vegetables that require extensive light whereas others do fine. We only get direct sun until mid afternoon. Couple that with the gloomy Irish weather and you can run into trouble.

    It pays to do some research I reckon!

  11. Guest Says:

    I have had great luck with the topsy turvey hanging planters. I was able to grow a tomato plant, bell pepper plant, and a pumpkin in them. I was also very successful in growing snap/snow peas in a window planter.

  12. Downunder Says:

    I have a balcony garden with 9 council recycling bins (20 litre capacity per bin). I have sorted the soil composition. Scoria on the bottom for drainage then a mixture of peat moss and worm compost with Magic rain. I have planted tomatoes, basil, beans, rhubarb, beetroot, strawberries, silver beet, carrots and a selection of herbs. Once I have planted my seedlings I mulch to control moisture loss. My balcony is a meter by three meters and we produce a lot of veges. I can send pictures of anyone is interested

  13. Guest Says:

    How about growing Window Farms in your apartment? The website for information is http://www.windowfarms.org. Give it a try and write back if it works.

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