In our modern cities, condos and apartments are a popular and growing choice amongst families. Many of these residents want to grow their own food, but face many obstacles that can discourage the creation of an apartment garden. Thankfully, with a little planning these barriers can be overcome and families that live in high-rises can enjoy the pleasures of home grown food and the cost-savings that come along with it!
Thank you again for stopping by; this is the second of two articles about gardening and personal finance. You can find the first article – about home gardens – here.
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The two biggest obstacles that high-rise dwellers face is lack of sunlight and soil quality. These two conditions can make or break an apartment garden.
The biggest obstacle of the two is the lack of direct sunlight. Plants need sun to survive and the more that they receive the more that they will produce. Unfortunately this is often a problem because high-rises typically receive less than six hours of direct sunlight a day.
Soil, or lack of, is also a big issue for high-rise gardeners. There’s no soil that has developed over time and soil depth is limited to your planter. This can cause issues with plants that grow deep like carrots.
Here Comes The Sun!
Thankfully, the negative effects of little sunlight can be avoided with some planning.
The first step is to decide where you want your garden to be. Optimally, you want this location to have as much sun as possible. The most common spot for high-rise gardens are on balconies, windowsills and fire escapes.
Next, it’s important to determine how much sunlight that your garden will receive. The most popular way of doing this is to periodically check your proposed garden area and monitor the sunlight. Also, keep in mind that the amount of sunlight that you receive also depends on the time of the year.
The amount of direct sunlight that your garden receives is broken down as such;
Full Sun: 6+ hours
Partial Sun: 4-6 hours
Partial Shade: 2-4 hours
Shade: Under 2 hours
The most common amount of sunlight for high-rises is partial sun. To have a successful garden, you will need to have at least fours hours of direct sunlight a day. You can still grow plants with less sunlight, but it may not be worth your time and efforts.
Choosing the Best Planting Technique For You
Choosing the best planting technique is personalized to your garden location, your creativity and how much time that you want to invest. Techniques range from using simple planting pots to creating vertical garden beds. Another popular design is using hanging herb or vegetable beds that can be placed by a window or hung off of a balcony.
The next question is what type of soil to use. You will need to choose a potting soil that matches the type of plant that you decide to grow. There’s only a few different types of soil available and it’s pretty easy to find the correct soil with a quick Google search.
Soil drainage is another concern that should be accounted for. If water pools around the plants’ roots then they may rot or become diseased. A simple solution is just to buy a pot with holes or make some holes yourself with a drill.
Choosing Your Plant
This is the fun part! You can grow whatever you want. The only restriction is that your garden needs to receive enough sunlight for the selected plant. Thankfully, many plants will thrive off of 6 hours of sun and will still grow at a slower pace with less than that. Here’s a brief list on some of the best plants that can be grown.
Salad Greens – These are probably my favourite garden plant to grow because you can just pick the leaves when you want to eat them. This category includes lettuce, spinach, kale and more. These plants do very well on 6 hours of sun, but will still grow to as low as 3-4 hours a day. These plants are also cold resistant and can be planted in early spring and will survive past early frosts.
Green Onions – These guys are probably the easiest plant to grow. Simply, buy a bunch from your local grocery store and stick them in a jar with water. That’s it! You can then harvest the green stocks when you need them. They require very little light and can just be put in a glass jar with water. The only thing that you need to do is occasionally change the water.
Carrots/Other Root Vegetables – These pants are also fairly easy to grow. They require deep pots of that are at least 8 inches deep and about 5+ hours of sun. However, once these steps are complete then they require very minimal attention and are very hardy.
Herbs – Herbs are great plants to grow in high-rises! They typically grow pretty fast and require about 5-6 hours of sunlight. The best part is that the plant will live for many season and you just use what you want when you need it. Basil, cilantro, mint and rosemary are some of the delicious herbs that you can grow.
There’s many other options that can be used and a simple Google search can yield these. Unfortunately, popular plants like tomatoes and cucumbers are really difficult to grow in high-rise gardens.
An Extra benefit For High-Rise Growers!
You probably won’t need to weed! High-rise growers can completely avoid the massive amount of time and energy that’s required to weed an outdoor garden. You’ll likely be using fresh soil every year and therefore won’t have to worry about annoying dandelions and thistle.
Growing for Pleasure and Savings
As your apartment garden grows and becomes more productive you’ll gain a unique sense of pride and pleasure. You’ll also find that you’ll be saving money by buying less vegetables and herbs.
Thanks again for reading, if you would like to add any tips or recommendations please comment below. Also you can reach me directly at 647-289-0012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.