Living in an apartment or in a home with no good options for an outdoor garden can seem like a challenge when it comes to growing an edible garden. Limited yourself to inside growing can make gardening feel difficult or impossible. The truth is that it is not impossible to creatively use the space you have to grow an amazing container garden inside.
Finding ways to garden in your home or apartment, indoors or outdoors, can be rewarding. Growing things that you can eat is even more fulfilling. Getting to enjoy the literal fruits of your labor is the best.
The options for edible plants you can grow inside aren’t as limited as you may think. There are so many things that will thrive in a container, indoors or out, when given the right conditions.
Whatever you decide to grow inside your home or apartment, make sure you research the plant first. Because your edible plants will be growing in containers rather than the ground, it is important to know how much room they will need to grow and when you need to fertilize them.
You need to make sure you know the things the plant will need: sun, climate, soil, space, and care. Arming yourself with this information will get you started on the right foot and help you make sure you aren’t growing something that will not work where you live.
Growing Herbs Indoors
Herbs are a great, simple plant to grow in containers and are thus well suited for an apartment. Having fresh herbs on hand is useful for all sorts of household purposes. They can be used in cooking, making your own tea blends, and even in therapeutic baths and body lotions. Some herbs also have medicinal purposes.
Herbs tend to take up less space than other plants, and some thrive indoors or out in smaller containers. Many herbs can even thrive together in the same containers. All varieties of mint should be planted by themselves, however, because they will aggressively choke out other plants.
When grouping herbs together, the most important thing to keep in mind is how moist the plants like their soil. Typically, herbs can be split into two categories—those that like wet moist soil and those that need good drainage. Water-loving herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, and basil, can be grouped together while drought tolerant herbs, such as rosemary, lavender, sage, oregano, and thyme, also do well together.
Choosing drought-tolerant herbs to start with can be helpful. If you sometimes forget to water your plants, these herbs will be more forgiving than thirstier specimen.
Growing herbs inside your apartment is an easy gateway into gardening in your space. It also ensures that your living spice rack is right at hand when you need it for cooking or other domestic uses.
Indoor Fruit Growing
Growing fruit indoors is also not as much of a stretch as one might think. Many berries and smaller citrus fruits will grow and thrive in a container and flourish on apartment patio or indoor environments.
The most important thing to consider when growing fruit in containers is to make sure your plants are positioned so they can get enough sunlight. Fruiting bushes, vines, and trees typically require full sun. Placing them in the sunniest window of your apartment is ideal.
Small citrus trees are beautiful and smell amazing. Meyer lemons are a great variety to grow indoors in a container. You can also find dwarf varieties of mandarin oranges and blood oranges to add to your indoor garden. Citrus plants need large containers to grow and may not produce fruit the first year. The small, sweet fruits and beautiful foliage are worth the work, though.
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries all grow well in containers with plenty of sunlight. Strawberries do best in specifically designed strawberry pots, which have open areas on the sides to place plants in.
Remember that blackberry bushes have thorns. Keep these plants out of reach of pets and children, and place them in a spot where you won’t run into them yourself.
Everything You Need to Make a Salad
With a little prep work, you can grow everything you need to make a delicious salad right inside your apartment.
Salad greens and microgreens flourish in containers. Lettuce varieties such as Romaine or butter lettuce will thrive as long as they are given enough room and plenty of sunlight. Keep microgreens such as arugula in shallow planters that get plenty of light. Then you can just trim the leaves off as needed to create your salads. Growing your favorite salad greens will save you a trip to the store and keep you from spending money on greens that often quickly go bad in the fridge. Learn more about microgreens.
Tomatoes and peppers are other yummy options that will do well in container gardens. Cherry, Roma, or heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers or hot peppers—the options are so varied. You can grow nearly any variety of tomato or pepper in a container easily provided the container is big enough. Generally, tomato and pepper plants need at least a 15-gallon pot and prefer full sun. The vines will need to be staked for support in order for the plants to grow properly.
Scallions are one of those magical veggies you can buy and keep regrowing from scraps. You can trim all the green tops from the scallions, then place the white bulbs in a small jar or cup of water. Place that in a sunny spot in your apartment, and the greens will grow back again and again. You can continually trim the scallion greens, and they will grow back for you to enjoy in your salads, on baked potatoes, inside omelets and stir-fries, or however you desire.
Gardening in your apartment can be so simple, and growing plants you can eat can make this hobby even more enjoyable. Start small with one or two plants. Grab a couple of containers or window boxes for the patio or your sunniest window and some herbs or a few types of fruit and veggie plants to kick things off. Make sure you choose plant varieties that grow well in your area and that you know how to care for them. These simple steps will set you up for a thriving apartment garden that you can enjoy snacks from in no time.
Shellie Elliott is a freelance writer and new mom based in Dallas, TX. She grew up gardening with her grandmother and has worked as a florist. She is currently obsessed with cacti and container gardening in small spaces.
Learn more about growing edibles indoors:
Mashable covers plants you can grow in indoors
Citylab has a guide to an apartment garden
Gardening Know How covers herbs in pots