Your DIY Guide To Apartment Vegetable Gardening (Plus How To Grow A Salsa Garden)
If you’re like me you like doing things yourself.
Change the oil in your car? Yep, do it regularly.
Make your own gifts? Every holiday.
Rewire the electrical system of your 1971 Triumph motorcycle – yeeeaaaah, it’s not quite as easy as online videos and shop manuals make it look. So, I can say I at least gave the project the old college try before I had to hand it over to a mechanic friend.
But a project, and I guess you’d call it an ongoing project, that I’ve had more successes than failures with that continues to be a source of fun and edible enjoyment is the container garden on my balcony.
My first foray into gardening was trying a salsa garden in a couple of pots. That’s growing peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro for your own fresh salsa ingredients. While my first crop wasn’t spectacular – I’m blaming colder than average temps for that season – I still managed to harvest enough from my garden to produce salsa to eat for weeks, with enough peppers left over to make bacon-wrapped jalapenos twice.
So even if you’re not a fan of the DIY movement and would rather buy your veggies from the organic section of your favorite snobby supermarket – I’m just here to say that if you’ve ever considered the idea of growing your own veggies and have blown it off because you either:
Live in an apartment or
Have been known to kill any green living thing
You’re wrong. You can grow tons of fresh veggies, fruits and herbs very easily on a balcony, patio or even a sunny spot inside.
And I’m going to show you how to get started in three easy steps:
#1 Find A Nice Spot With Lots Of Sun
Plants, especially fruits and veggies, love sunlight. Don’t know if you’ve ever heard that, but it’s true. They like at least 6 hours of good direct sunlight per day.
So the first thing you need to do is locate a spot that gets lots of sun. I know you’re probably going to go straight to the balcony or patio because those two spots truly are the best places to post up with your garden.
Take a Sunday to wake up early and while you’re cleaning or watching fainting goat videos, keep an eye on your preferred spot to see where the sun hits it.
You can always use a compass (or a compass app on your phone) to get your bearings – you know, sun rises in the east, sets in the west. It’ll give you a good approximation of where the sun should hit.
Even if your area isn’t in the direct path, it should still get some sun.
Don’t be disappointed if your spot doesn’t get a full six hours – you can squeak by with four hours. You can also choose another place and there’s nothing wrong with growing inside. You can also grow plants that do well in shade (there’ll be a list later on).
After you’ve located your prime spot – measure the length and width. You’ll need to know exactly how much space you’re working with. That’ll help you prepare for the next step of buying your containers.
#2 – Buy Your Containers
It’s all about the container gardening. That’s just another way to say growing in pots. Just like every flower pot and houseplant you’ve ever seen.
The only difference is, the pots you’re going to be using will be a bit larger and deeper because you want enough room for the roots to be able to stretch out.
Growing in containers is perfect for an apartment. They don’t take up much space, they’re easier to move and plants growing in them are easy to maintain. And you’re going to be amazed at how much yield you can actually get.
The size of your pot is really going to depend on what’s growing in it. Here’s a sizing chart you can follow to help you out.
Here’s the basic sizes if you want to start a salsa garden:
- Tomatoes – 15 – 20 gallon container
- Onions – a container 24 inches wide and at least 10 inches deep
- Garlic – 5 gallon container
- Peppers – 3 gallon container
- Cilantro – a container 20 – 28 inches wide and at least 10 inches deep
Planters and raised beds are just a type of rectangular pot, often with legs. These maximize usable space and if they’ve got legs it’ll keep you from having to bend over so much. See some options here. The Earthbox gets great reviews.
After you’ve decided your containers, next it’s time for the fun part.
#3 – Choose Your Crop
This can be hard. What do you want to grow? There are lots of choices as most any type of vegetable and herb and quite a wide variety of fruit will grow in a container.
If you’re growing indoors, here’s a long list of things that will do well.
And, of course, here’s a primer on how to grow a salsa garden.
Bonus: How-To Guides And Extra Tips
I’m not going to leave you hanging. Here’s a great list of how-to guides and tips to help you choose the right soil and whether to start with seeds or seedlings.
- Choosing The Right Soil
- Seeds Or Seedlings?
- Growing Vegetables In Pots
- Container Vegetable Gardening 101
- Ultimate Guide To Indoor Vegetable Gardens
That’s it. No more paying for overpriced organic produce because you’re going to be producing your own.
Not only will you get the satisfaction of DIY’ing it yourself and learning how to garden – trust me when I say that the best salsa you’ve ever tasted is going to be the salsa you make with the peppers and tomatoes you grew yourself.
A modern apartment at The Bryant in Charlotte, NC, is the perfect place to start your garden. With inspiring design, premium amenities including balcony, patio or private porch options and a location in an exciting community, you’ll be in fertile soil for growth and adventure.