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Living in an apartment doesn’t have to stop you from growing your own fresh and delicious vegetables! If you are lucky enough to have a balcony or patio, some direct sunlight, and a way to provide the plants with water, growing your own assortment of vegetables is pretty simple, even if you don’t have a green thumb.
Almost any vegetable you can think of to grow in a backyard garden will also thrive in your balcony vegetable garden under the right conditions, including: tomatoes, peppers, beans, and eggplant, just to name a few! Below are some tips for getting started.
What to Grow
The first step is figuring out what kind of vegetables you want to grow! While there are a variety of vegetable options that can be grown in an apartment, there are limitations depending on your location and season. If you live near local farmers markets, consider this when deciding what you’re going to plant.
Timing is an important thing to keep in mind when deciding what to plant. If you like radishes, lettuce, spinach and peas, these are all considered cool-weather crops, so you will grow and harvest them earlier than you would grow or harvest tomatoes. Radishes and other root vegetables don’t require much sun, but do need deep enough containers to enough to allow the plants to create a good root.
If you want to grow lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, radishes, peas or beans, you can grow all of these from seed without having to start the seeds inside in advance. If you want to grow other vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, or eggplant, you may want to consider buying starter plants.
Find the Right Containers
Finding the right vessel for planting is key to getting the biggest harvest. If you have a patio, consider using the railing to hold some window boxes or other planters. Be on the lookout for window boxes that have built in water reservoirs because these keep your vegetables from drying out so quickly.
If you have the space, larger containers provide your plants with more room to grow, while allowing you to plant them far enough apart that the entire plant gets sufficient sun exposure and air circulation. Try to use recycled plastic containers, not clay pots, as they soak up water very quickly.
What to Plant With
When planting your new vegetables, make sure to use synthetic soils, which are best suited for container plants. Synthetic soils are made of wood chips, peat moss, sawdust, vermiculite, or perlite, and can be found at any home improvement store or garden center. You can fill the bottom of the container with coarse gravel before putting the soil in, which will also improve water drainage for your plants.
Once you’ve planted your vegetables, don’t forget to water regularly! Water your plants early in the morning so that the leaves and soil can dry out during the day. Water each container until you can see water leaking out of the bottom, or water building up in the reservoir. By watering this deeply, you won’t need to water as often.
Be careful not to over fertilize your vegetable plants, and use a water-soluble fertilizer so that it goes to your plants faster. While you may need to research for specific vegetables, a general guideline is an inch of water per week; in dry climates, it is double that. In hot weather, vegetables need even more water, up to about ½ inch extra per week for every 10 degrees that the average temperature is above 60 degrees.
After patiently waiting and taking care of your veggie babies, it will finally be time to harvest! Most vegetables are at their peak of tenderness and flavor when they are relatively small, but each one has unique characteristics. If you’ve planted root vegetables, loosen the soil gently and pull one up to see how big it is. For peas, pick a test pod and open it when the seeds have begun to swell inside, and look for peas that are round but still tender. Pick peas just before you are ready to shell and cook them. Peppers are mature and ready to eat when full-sized but still green.
Once you have successfully grown and harvested your vegetables, you can start cooking delicious and healthy meals for you and your family to enjoy!
Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden in Your Metuchen, NJ Apartment
Starting your own vegetable garden is easier than ever at Woodmont Metro! Our luxury apartment community offers modern and elegant one-bedroom and two-bedroom floor plans that boast an extensive list of features and amenities, including terraces and balconies! Contact us today to learn more about making Woodmont Metro your home.