Growing a garden isn’t about space – you can create a growing space just about anywhere. You can grow your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables and right in your Harrisonburg apartment! With a little setup, you can create a successful apartment garden rather simply.
Assess your apartment and determine the best place to put your plants. Consider sunlight, water access, and the weight of the containers you’ll use. Start small – try some creative containers and plant some herbs to get into the habit of caring for indoor plants.
Learn what the plants you are growing need to thrive. Some plants need as little as 4-6 hours of full sunshine, but most fruiting and flowering plants crave 6-8 hours of direct sun. Arrange plants thoughtfully – plant tomatoes on balconies, rooftops, or hanging pots, while herbs can be planted in an apartment kitchen window. You can also use a sun lamp to increase the amount of sun plants receive.
Use a high quality potting mix that drains well in containers. The lighter weight will keep your containers from becoming difficult to maneuver and is also sterile, which is important in an apartment – you don’t want to catch diseases from your garden. Good potting soil also maintains pockets of air to allow roots to absorb water and grow.
Water container plants often as they tend to dry out faster than plants in the ground. Some may even need water twice a day. Keep your garden near a water supply so you won’t have to lug heavy watering cans around. You can also purchase a hose that can be attached to your sink to make watering easier.
Outdoor hanging and potted plants do not get enough water from rain – they will need to be watered, sometimes more than once daily. If your potting soil is pre-fertilized, you won’t need to feed your plants very often or at all. If you use unfertilized soil, use a water soluble fertilizer to feed your plants.
Use a sprayer or water bottle to spritz your plants a few times a day to increase humidity for apartment plants. If your plants are on a balcony or hanging outdoors, note the amount of wind they endure. Some plants may need a wind shield to keep them from drying out too quickly or suffering leaf damage.
Containers can be very heavy when full of soil and even heavier after watering. If you are using a window sill planter or a window box, make sure that it is fully secured to the window sill and will not damage the sill. If you are using a balcony or rooftop, check with the apartment management to find out how much weight the structure can handle.
Seeds are easy to start, but if you want to get started in a hurry, try buying small plants. When you are ready, here are a few suggestions about what to plant in your apartment:
Herbs – Herbs do very well in containers. Some favorites include chives, parsley, basil, thyme, mint, and lavender.
Salad Greens – Lettuces and greens grow quickly with shallow roots, and can grow even in low light as long as they get plenty of water. Try Spinach, Bibb lettuce or Arugula.
Chile Peppers – Peppers do very well in pots and in lower light conditions. And produce fruit year round.
Strawberries – Strawberries require a lot of sun, but a nice sunny window sill can produce a lovely batch of pretty (and delicious) plants. Be sure to use pots that are 12” deep.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes grow well in pots, although they can get heavy and require a good deal of light. They do best in 30” or larger diameter pots and often prefer balconies, although you can use hanging pots as well with a sturdy hook.
Harvest often – apartment gardeners tend to be shy about harvesting, hoping for a large harvest or fearing that they will harm plants. Harvesting actually encourages the plant to set more flowers and produce more fruit, so enjoy the fruits of your garden often!