Gardening for the Apartment Dweller
The benefits to having your own garden are pretty limitless. The garden does ask a few things in return – sunlight, soil and a willing soul with a watering can — but not too much else. Surprisingly, maintaining a small vegetable or herb garden doesn’t take much more effort than that sad plant in the corner of every office building. You know the one. Mint, rosmarin or other smell plants have the ability to keep insects like mosquito away.
Sure building a fence, developing a hatred for “vermin” and tilling anything is a lot of effort; but you don’t have to go totally Farmer Brown on this. I’m not talking about a field here or even a garden, really. Just having potted plants in the home can improve air quality, yield a lot of product and (I think) manifest general cheer.
Grow a few simple veggies or herbs and you have something to nosh on while you’re deeply breathing that plant purified air. Which is fantastic considering how expensive and impossibly big bundles of fresh herbs are. Scared about the responsibility of nurturing a vegetable? You could start with some greens, lettuces are easy to grow and everyone knows what to do with them. This post by GardenersPath might be very helpful. Flowers can add color and joy to any space; they also make you seem sensitive.
So how do you begin? Well, like anything else living, plants need shelter. Containers and flowerpots can be purchased from any garden supply store but pretty much any water-retaining vessel can be used from coffee cans, to mason jars to two-liter bottles. Personally, I think the home should match the homeowner. Growing some tomatoes for the perfect pizza sauce? I think an old Terra cotta pot is perfect. Growing some bulgur wheat to throw in your morning granola mix? Maybe a repurposed almond milk jug is right for you.
Once you’ve found a home it is important to furnish it. A bed of potting soil will be perfect for your new flora friend, any type will do. There will be directions on your seed or seedling packet on how deep and how densely the seed/roots should be placed. What ever the directions say—do that. In general you should probably just follow the directions for sun exposure and water amount as well, but don’t—ya know—stress about it or anything. Plants are made to grow and as long as you don’t forget about them or give them an unfit home (i.e. fat plant in little pot) they’ll do fine. If you fail at this, get a cactus instead. If you kill that too it means you are less nurturing than a desert, so work on that.
You new plant friends should do great! As you grow more comfortable and confident with your agricultural skills feel free to choose more high maintenance plants or just get more of the same. Keep cultivating and before you know it you’ll have an entire garden in your home, but remember not to grow too much lettuce, because it’s really not an appropriate gift.