Growing your own apartment garden
With the increasing price of groceries and questionable nutrition value of what you find in the grocery store, growing your own vegetables makes sense. But what if you live in an apartment? There is nothing to stop you from enjoying homegrown vegetables in an apartment garden if you have a patio or balcony; you can grow a crop of vegetables in containers. All you need is good light, the right containers, water, and plant food. You will also need patience because some plants, like tomatoes, will not yield until later in the summer. Other plants, such as cool weather crops like early lettuce will grow quickly, so you can start enjoying fresh salads shortly after planting.
The most successful vegetable plants are those that are self-contained; in other words, they are a single plant that will grow upward and fill out. While it is possible, you don’t want to try to grow a “viney” spreading plant like squash, pumpkins, or watermelon in containers on your balcony. If you want to attempt a crop like that, try pole beans or a variety that you can “train” to climb a trellis or other supportive structure.
How to successfully grow container vegetables on your balcony or patio
Pots. The easiest container is a large plastic bucket which you can find at any hardware store or lawn and garden center. You will be surprised by how much soil a single plant like a tomato or eggplant needs. There are also “smart pots,” which are made of polypropylene and are breathable, which makes for healthy roots. Plants with shallow roots like lettuce and other greens can be grown in planter boxes. You can also get creative and plant an herb garden in a hanging basket. Basically, if the pot allows for good drainage, is not fired with any toxic glazes, and is large enough to keep the plant from becoming root-bound, anything goes.
Soil. There are so many types of name-brand soil that you can buy at a big box store that this is a no-brainer. Choose a potting soil with good aeration and a neutral pH. What you don’t want to do is to go somewhere and just dig up random soil as you don’t know the composition of minerals and other nutrients. Packaged potting soils, found at your local lawn and garden retailer, contain specially formulated soil mixture for container gardening so you don’t have to mess with adding other elements to get the right balance for optimal growing.
Fertilizer. What you are looking for is a water-soluble or liquid product that is balanced in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which is indicated by the ratio on the package, such as 10:10:10. The fertilizer you choose will depend on what potting soil you use and the type of vegetable. Many commercial fertilizers take the guesswork out of feeding your plants and there are also many resources online if you would like to make your own. You should start feeding your plants about six weeks after you’ve put them out.
Light. Most vegetable plants need at least six hours of direct light a day. If your balcony or patio gets spotty sunlight, you may need to move your plants around to catch the rays.
Water. Keep your vegetable plants watered so the soil remains damp but not saturated. Don’t let the soil dry out between waterings. Once roots are dried out and damaged, it is very difficult for the plant to recover.
Now that you have the basics, what kinds of vegetables successfully grow in containers in Central Ohio (Zone 6)?
- Brussels sprouts
Don’t let this list limit you and try whatever you like as long as you have the space and light. Gardening is a rewarding hobby and gives you ownership over what you are putting into your body. You grew it and have the peace of mind that your vegetables were not treated with any types of pesticides or preservatives. Now is the perfect time to hit the garden center and soon you will be enjoying the delicious and nutritious rewards of your hard work.
Live the Good Life in a Vision Community
At Vision Communities, our goal is to create the space for you to make it your own. We want you to feel at home when you join one of our Central Ohio apartment communities. Planting a vegetable garden is one way to make that a reality. If you are looking for an apartment, check out our 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom floor plans, many of which offer a balcony space to build your own oasis.
Schedule an appointment to check out our spacious floor plans, and our friendly property management staff will be happy to show you around.