Old Oak Properties

Container gardening in a apartment lets you cultivate your inner farmer

When you live 10 storeys straight up in a rental apartment, it can be hard to picture yourself going out to your garden to pick some fresh vegetables for a salad. Container gardening makes it possible, and downright easy. And as a student, having a supply of fresh vegetables is not only a welcome addition to a diet of pizza and chicken wings, it can add balance to your budget too. So dig out your green thumb, pull on your overalls and start farming.

First you need containers. There are a variety of choices available from ceramic or clay to plastic and wooden and you need to know the characteristics of whatever one you choose. Ceramic is very durable but requires adequate drainage so they will need holes in the bottom. Clay is lighter but will lose water faster so you need to watch plants carefully and water regularly so they don’t dry out. Plastic is the lightest and cheapest and wood can rot over time. Probably clay or plastic will be your best options.

The next step is to fill your pots. You’ll need a layer of stones or gravel in the bottom for drainage and then good potting soil as the growing medium. Fill each pot with soil to about one inch below the lip so when you water the plants or when it rains you avoid the excess overflowing onto the balcony.

Then choose your vegetables. There are many different vegetables that are well suited to container life in London, Ontario. Tomatoes will need a trellis or pole for support and lots of light. Lettuce has shallow roots so is suited to shallower pots and it doesn’t require a lot of sunlight. Tap root vegetables like carrots and some kinds of beets do well but need a deep pot. Beans and peas do well in pots also. They need average sunlight and you’ll have to have your pot near a trellis so the vines have a place to climb. When in doubt, a little advice from your local London Ontario garden centre expert is never a bad idea.

Soil in containers dries out faster than the ground. During hot, dry weather, you may have to water your plants daily. Don’t over water either as it can cause stems and roots to rot. The soil should always feel damp but never waterlogged.

Fertilizing is a lot like goldilocks. Not too much, not too little, just right. Too much damages the plant and because, nutrients in containers tend to drain out quickly, too little will leave your plant underdeveloped. Generally it’s a good idea to use a diluted liquid fertilizer with each watering.

Herbs make a great addition to your garden too and they’re very easy to grow. Favourites like basil, parsley, dill and rosemary are all suitable candidates. To save space, you can even use a vertical planter that stands up against a wall. Don’t over water or over fertilize and make sure they get about 6 hours of sunlight a day.

So what are you waiting for? Get started, tend it carefully and watch your garden grow. In no time, you can have a bounty of fresh vegetables right outside your apartment balcony door.

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