Growing a perfect garden doesn’t require a lot of outdoor space – you can enjoy gardening almost anywhere. You can cultivate fruit, vegetables, and herbs right in your Charlottesville apartment! A successful apartment garden is easy with just a little know-how.
Map out your apartment to determine the best places for your plants. Take into account sunlight, water access, and the weight of the containers you’ll need to use. Start with some creative containers for herbs as you learn the basics of maintaining an indoor garden.
Find out everything about the plants you want to grow and what they need to thrive. Some plants only need 4-6 hours of direct sun, but fruits and flowering plants usually prefer 6-8 hours of full sunshine. Place plants with care – heavier plants like plant tomatoes should rest balconies, rooftops, or hanging pots. Herbs are perfectly happy in small pots or in an apartment kitchen window. If needed, you can also use a sun lamp to provide more sunlight.
A high-quality potting mix that drains well in your containers is essential. Lightweight potting soil prevents your containers from becoming too difficult to maneuver. Potting soil is also sterile, which is important to keep bacteria from getting you sick. Potting mix is formulated to maintain pockets of air that allow roots to absorb water and grow properly.
Plants in containers dry out faster than plants in the ground, so water them often. Some plants need to be watered twice daily. Place your garden near a water source so you don’t have to lug heavy watering cans around. You might benefit from a hose that can be attached to a sink to make watering simpler.
Outdoor plants in pots and hanging baskets generally do not get enough water from rain – you’ll want to water them, often more than once daily. If you use fertilized potting soil, you shouldn’t need to feed your plants frequently, if ever. If you use unfertilized soil, you should use a water-soluble fertilizer to periodically feed your plants.
Mist your plants a few times a daily with a spray bottle to maintain proper humidity for apartment plants. Keep an eye on the amount of wind that plants on balconies or hanging outdoors have to endure, and use a windshield if necessary to keep leaves from being damaged and prevent plants from drying out.
Pots full of soil can be very heavy, especially after watering. If you are using a window box or a window sill planter, make sure the container is fully secured to the window sill and cannot damage the sill. Plants that rest on a balcony or rooftop should be approved by the apartment management to make sure the structure can support the weight.
Seeds are fun and easy to start, or you can buy small plants if you want to get started quickly. Here are a few of our favorite suggestions for apartment gardens:
Herbs – Herbs are very happy in containers. Some favorites for the kitchen include mint, thyme, chives, parsley, lavender, and basil.
Salad Greens – Greens grow rapidly with shallow roots and do well in lower light as long as they receive plenty of water. Try Spinach, Arugula, or Bibb lettuce.
Chile Peppers – Peppers grow very well in containers and in lower light conditions, and produce fruit year-round.
Strawberries – Strawberries do require a lot of sun, but a bright sunny window sill can yield a pretty (and delicious) reward. Make sure to use 12” deep pots.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes grow well in pots, although the containers can be heavy and the plants prefer a lot of direct sunlight. Use containers that are 30” or larger in diameter and place them on balconies. Hanging pots also work if you use a sturdy hook.
Enjoy your harvest often – apartment gardeners are can be about harvesting in the hopes that they will gather a large harvest or out of fear that they might harm the plants. Harvesting stimulates the plant to set more flowers and produce more fruit, so enjoy the products of your Charlottesville apartment garden frequently!