Growing your own food is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Even apartment dwellers can grow veggies at home. The following points should be kept in mind, however.
It is essential to plan for your space, choose the right plants to grow, and stock up on gardening supplies if you want to successfully grow vegetables in your condo. Investing in grow lights could also be a good idea if you're short on sunlight.
Learn how you can grow healthy veggies in the comfort of your own home.
Condo Layout and Location
The layout and location of your apartment play a significant role in which veggies you can grow and what you’ll need to grow them. Here’s how.
Spacious apartments generally accommodate taller and larger vegetables–think of cabbage and broccoli. But don’t let size limit you. You can work around your apartment’s layout to maximize the space for your crop.
Patios and balconies – These are great for growing big vegetables and climbers in pots or grow bags.
Vertical gardens – They work well for growing vegetables in hanging baskets and suspended wall pots if you have a small apartment.
Window sills – These are perfect for growing microgreens, baby veggies, and small herbs in apartments without outdoor space.
Your condo’s location affects one of the most essential necessities for your indoor gardening–sunlight.
All vegetables need plenty of sunlight to sprout and mature into healthy yields. Even shade-loving veggies like beets and spinach need at least 4 hours of direct sun to grow properly.
An apartment with a south-facing window is the best option for growing vegetables indoors. But if you have a sunlight problem, you can use grow lights to give your veggies extra UV light.
Choose Plants to Grow
Grow what you love to eat. Although some vegetables are easier to grow than others, there’s no point in growing zucchini if you don’t like it on your plate. Also, if you enjoy a vegetable but find it expensive or hard to get, consider growing it in your condo.
While you can grow virtually any plant in a container, some choices are more challenging to grow indoors than others. For starters, plants like peaches and avocado are a no-no since they grow on large trees. But generally speaking, your options are between fruiting and non-fruiting vegetables.
These are vegetables that produce a “fruit” with seeds inside it. Examples include:
Although fruiting vegetables can flourish indoors, they’ll need some of your help to pollinate. Typically, this will involve shaking them periodically to move pollen from the anther to the stigma of their flowers, something that bees do naturally outdoors.
Many people grow fruiting veggies successfully in their apartments, but they take a long time to mature and require extra attention with pest and disease control.
On the other hand, non-fruiting vegetables don’t produce fruit and have edible leaves, stems, and roots. These include herbs and leafy greens like:
Non-fruiting vegetables are the best to grow indoors because they mature faster and are relatively easy to care for.
Gather Your Supplies
Once you know what you want to grow, it’s time to go shopping. Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank when you’re buying indoor gardening supplies. Here are some of the essential items you need to grow healthy vegetables in your condo:
You can order seeds from a reputable seed company or find them in your local gardening or hardware store. Be sure to read their seed catalogue or the packaging to know which seeds are okay for growing indoors before you buy anything.
You can also purchase seeds or seedlings from a local nursery, farmers’ market, or grocery store. The thing about seedlings is they save time by giving you a head start of a few weeks. You also won’t need to worry about seeds that fail to sprout due to various reasons.
No gardening adventure is complete without tools. To take care of your vegetables from planting to harvesting, you’ll need these essential tools:
Long-spout watering can
Hand garden fork for loosening and tilling the soil
Soil testing kit for testing soil pH
Your containers are where your veggies will grow. They must have drainage holes and be deep enough to support root growth for the particular plant they hold. Your options here include:
Flowerpots and saucers
DIY old containers
Grow lights are vital when your vegetables are not getting enough exposure to sunlight, like in the winter. If you’re growing herbs and cool-tolerant plants, you don’t have to go all out on artificial light since fluorescent bulbs can get the job done.
But fruiting and warmth-loving veggies like tomatoes may need extra heat and light, so consider purchasing some high-temperature indoor plant grow lights.
Always choose potting soil when growing indoor veggies. If you use outdoor garden soil, there’s always a risk of transmitting pests and diseases to your indoor plants.
If you’re sowing seeds, use an organic starting mix until they become seedlings. At that point, you can transfer them into an organic potting mix.
Remember to check your retailer’s seed catalogue to know the right soil pH for your vegetables. You’ll also need to add liquid fertilizer to the potting mix monthly for non-fruiting vegetables and twice monthly for fruiting vegetables.
Watering keeps your plants nourished and prevents them from drying up. But you have to tread carefully when watering indoor veggies. Overwatering your plants is a rookie mistake because it will cause them to rot. On the other hand, insufficient watering can dry them up.
Here are a few telltale signs that your plants need water:
Colour of the soil – If the top layer is light brown and cracked, the soil is too dry.
Weight of the pot – A lighter pot means the soil needs more water.
Texture of soil – Soil that feels dry to the touch has probably run out of water.
Harvesting the Fruits of Your Labour
Ideally, you should harvest your home-grown veggies all year long. If you planted everything at once, you’ll deplete all your yield in one harvest and have to replant and wait for another harvest.
There are two ways you can enjoy a continuous supply of fresh home-grown veggies:
Succession planting – This involves planting a new group of veggies when your current one has matured about half-way. Try this when growing beans, cabbage, or even cherry tomatoes.
Cut and come – This entails harvesting only part of the leafy vegetable to allow it to grow back. This works perfectly with lettuce.