Apartment Gardening: Benefits, Guides, Tips + More – mindbodygreen.com | Directory Mayhem

Can you garden in your apartment?

Short answer: yes. But it may look different than the type of garden you envision. Here are the top three ways to bring the outside into your apartment garden:

  • Creating a garden on the windowsill: When gardening on the windowsill, small things are usually grown in small pots, thanks to the narrow space. This inevitably affects the size of plants you can grow. (A lemon tree doesn’t fit on your windowsill!)
  • Do a countertop project: If you have an apartment that faces north, live in a daylight basement, or otherwise don’t have much access to natural light, you can still grow food at home in an apartment garden—no soil required. Many seeds and nuts can be germinated and grown on countertops. Seeds themselves contain all the energy needed for germination, as well as cotyledons — the first true leaves that allow a plant to photosynthesize as it grows. Seeds only need water and air to produce that first sprout.
  • Creating a balcony garden: This is the most forgiving way to cultivate an apartment garden. When plants have access to natural light, air, and elements, they tend to be stronger in their disposition and taste. Growing outdoors, even in small spaces like a balcony, opens up a world of possibilities for apartment dwellers.

The best plants for indoor cultivation.

These six low-maintenance edible varieties would do well in most home gardens. Here are some tips to get you started:

1.

arugula

A member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family, arugula is considered a cold-weather plant and thrives well in the cooler temperatures of early spring and fall. Bookmark this plant for an autumn or late winter sowing.

Arugula is characterized by north-facing windows — a rare trait for a houseplant. The cooler temperatures keep arugula from shooting or seeding. As with all indoor garden plants, keep arugula planters away from heat sources that will dry out the soil and stress the plant.

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2.

spring onions

Spring onions belong to the leek family (the same family as shallots and garlic) and are fast-growing. Even better, spring onions are considered cut-and-come plants, meaning you can cut them up to eat and the plant will continue to grow.

Choose a narrow pot that is at least 6 inches deep and plant in a row, leaving 1 inch between seeds. Spring onions can be planted most of the year, but do better in direct sunlight, so opt for a south-facing window if you have one.

3.

basil

Basil prefers warmer temperatures and doesn’t last much longer than a few months. The popular herb can be planted from seed or bought as a transplant. When you bring the plant home, trim any very long root systems to about 3 inches in length and plant them in the potting soil or keep their roots in a shallow basin of water, like a vase.

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4.

mint

This vibrant perennial herb can be planted year-round and will withstand a spectrum of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade. Mint doesn’t like wet “feet”, so make sure the soil drains well and don’t leave water in the saucer. As with all plants, you aim for constant moisture in the soil. Don’t let it dry out and don’t soak either.

5.

microgreens

Tiny little plants that are two to three weeks old and have only two true pairs of leaves are considered microgreens. These baby greens are all the rage with chefs and they’re easy to recognize by their flavor – they pack a spicy punch!

Microgreens require very little attention and can be grown right in a casserole dish on your windowsill. Try arugula, basil, beets, celery, or cilantro.

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6.

sprouts

Last but not least, sprouts are delicious, nutritious and easy to grow in any home, any time of the year.

Sprouts are essentially the very first growth a seed produces before it develops true leaves. Seeds store all the energy and nutrition needed to produce healthy plants. By eating them at a very early stage of growth, we reap the rewards of all that good energy. They give dishes a fresh and crispy texture.

Neither earth nor a window sill is needed for this! From start to finish, it only takes them three to five days to grow at home.

Materials for the home garden.

To start a container garden, you need at least pots, soil, and water.

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Pots:

You might think that choosing pots would be the easiest part of an apartment garden, but interestingly, it’s not. Containers and pots come in many shapes and sizes, and seem to be made out of just as many materials.

Try planting in a pot slightly larger than the plant actually needs. It’s better to leave some leeway than plant roots banging against the container walls. I always go big: if you allow some growth, you increase the chances that your plant will grow to full maturity. The goal is for the plant to produce as much as possible.

Floor:

Not all potting soil is the same! A good quality potting mix will drain well while still retaining moisture. Most soil mixes are formulated to retain a degree of lightness to allow plants to breathe. (This also makes it easier to carry large earth bags up stairs and down long hallways.)

Your potting soil should also contain a mixture of compost or bark. These add body and texture to the soil and help retain moisture.

Water:

Unsurprisingly, water is critical to healthy plant growth and a successful indoor garden. Water transports minerals to the plant, allows evaporation for cooling, and aids in photosynthesis.

Plants enclosed in containers require special attention as water drains quickly and pots expose individual plants to more sun, wind and heat than in a traditional garden setting. Water can also evaporate from pots, so plan to water every few days if not daily.

Design of a residential garden.

No matter what you’re planting, a south-facing window is ideal as it allows for direct sunlight year-round. An east- or west-facing window doesn’t get sun all day, and a north-facing window emits no direct light at all, only providing plants with ambient light.

Once you’ve found your sunniest spot, here are some tips on how to set up your garden based on where you’re growing:

For seedlings:

  1. If you have a balcony, choose the largest possible pot for the vegetables you plan to grow. More room for roots to spread results in bigger harvests. If you’re growing indoors, choose pots that can fit on your windowsill or on a plant stand near the window.
  2. Fill each pot with plenty of potting soil. The deeper the root system, the stronger and more productive the plant will be.
  3. Place your plant beginnings in the soil. Water them as needed to keep their soil moist but not soggy.

For microgreens:

  1. Fill a shallow dish with a seed soil mixture. Do not underfill the compartment; add enough mixture so it is flush with the top. You can use a plastic gardening tray or even a shallow casserole dish or roasting pan.
  2. Scatter the seeds densely over the top of the mixture. Mist with a water bottle to saturate the surface. Cover with plastic wrap to retain moisture and generate some heat.
  3. Place it on a windowsill or somewhere that gets good light.

For sprouts:

  1. Place the seeds in a quart-sized glass jar and cover with some water. Cover the lid of the jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band.
  2. Rinse your sprouts with fresh water every few hours, three to four times a day.
  3. They should germinate and be ready to eat in three to five days.

Maintenance of an apartment garden.

  1. Water regularly, not too much, not too little. Make sure the soil is slightly moist throughout. If you pinch some soil between two fingers and hold them together, that’s perfect. You don’t want it to be saturated and you never want the soil to dry out.
  2. follow the light As the season changes, you may need to move the plants around your home for maximum exposure.
  3. Watch the temperature. When we grow plants indoors, we automatically assume that they want it just as warm and cozy as we do. Not true! Most plants do well in moderate temperatures in the high 60’s/low 70’s. If you turn up your heating in the winter and put plants too close to the radiator, you can actually cook and kill them.
  4. Think like a plant. If it’s been cloudy, your plants won’t get much sun and may not need water. If it’s a very sunny day, they can dry out. Realize that every plant has its own microclimate and what works for one may not work for another, even if they’re just across the room.

Advantages of an apartment garden.

If you need a little extra nudge to start your green oasis, here are some of the top benefits of apartment gardening:

1.

It’s relaxing.

Research shows that plants and greenery can reduce stress and boost a good mood. And when you bring plants into the house, you invite some of that relaxation too.

2.

It helps you eat clean.

When you grow food at home, you are in control. You know what type of soil you are using, what the plants absorb through their root system and what environment they live in. And with a virtually non-existent carbon footprint, you can’t get much more local than the rooms next door.

In short, homegrown food is the freshest, cleanest food you can eat!

3.

It connects you with nature.

Regardless of size, all gardens maintain a sense of connection with nature. Plants react to light and temperature, so in winter the low sun outside signals plants that it’s time to slow down. In this way, apartment gardens remind us to slow down in winter and speed up in spring, allowing us to stay connected to the natural rhythms of each season.

The final result.

Gardening is working with nature, and it’s not an exact science. There are far too many variables to say definitively what grows best where. Sun exposure, latitude, time of year, watering schedule – all of these things and more will affect the success of any planting you undertake.

Against this background, these tips for a successful apartment garden will serve you well at any time of the year and regardless of where you live. You do got a green thumb! It’s just waiting for you to find it.

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