Apartment Living: Container Gardening on a Budget


Gardening is a beloved activity where you behold the wonder of nature as you partner with it to create and control vegetation. You also have the benefit of getting outside to enjoy the fresh air and some exercise. If you grow edible plants you have the additional benefit of home-grown produce to nourish your body. It’s clear to see that gardening is an activity that makes both your body and spirit healthier overall.

For those who do not own a yard, gardening may seem like an impossible activity to pursue, especially if you are on a budget. But don’t be dismayed; if you have a porch, no matter how small, there are numerous affordable gardening options available. Plus, don’t forget indoor plants!

First you need to decide what you would like to grow. Flowers are always a soul-enlivening option, plus there are so many varieties to choose from that you are sure to find a plant suitable to your living situation. Whether it be full sun, full shade, minimal water, or what have you, a little research will uncover exactly the flower or small greenery plant you desire to grow.

Edible plants are a practical option since the results of your gardening work will produce food. Who wouldn’t want fresh vegetables and fruits home-grown at their own apartment? Good choices for growing in a container include cherry tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, broccoli, carrots, leafy lettuce, sugar baby watermelons, compact cucumbers, and blackberries. You can attempt to grow most of these plants starting by seed. These can easily be found for $1 per packet of seeds. Other plants (such as blueberries or strawberries) are generally sold as small starter plants, or even fully grown and potted. The small seedlings are generally less expensive, so keep that in mind when choosing.

The biggest expense of container gardening is purchasing the planters (containers) and potting soil. As you can see from the photo, creative and affordable planters can be found anywhere if you just expand your view. Large storage containers or plastic buckets can be turned into planters by simply drilling drainage holes along the bottom and then filling with dirt. Things that would normally be seen as trash, such as kitty litter buckets, can be washed and turned into planters in the same way. Cheap, small gardening pots are available at dollar stores during the summer months. Often they even go on clearance at the end of summer.

You can also check yard sales, and especially moving sales, for unwanted pots and planters for dirt cheap… well, cheaper than dirt. As you will find while you’re shopping for potting soil, dirt can be surprisingly expensive. Fortunately, the mid-priced brands actually work as well as the costly brands. The cheapest potting soil brands, however, lack fertilizing plant food. When starting a container garden it is wise to choose potting soil that contains plant food to get your vegetation growing strong and healthy. If you buy the cheapest potting soil thinking that you’re saving money, you will only end up spending more on plant food. The most convenient and affordable choice is a mid-priced potting soil (often as cheap as $2 or $3 per small bag) complete with plant food, guaranteed to feed your plants for months.

Gardening tools can be found in the summer at dollar stores, and affordable options are available at mass merchandisers as well. At the very least, you will need a small shovel (also known as a trowel). However, a set complete with trowel, cultivator, transplanter, and watering can is nice to have.

Now that you have your plants, planters, potting soil, and tools picked out and purchased, enjoy the process of planting your container garden. Follow the instructions on seeds, plants, and soil to get the best results. Be sure to fully experience the joy of growing your own plants despite your small living quarters!

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