5 Ways For Apartment Dwellers To Grow Their Own Food.


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After spending 1.5 years living in a house in the middle of nowhere, it was a little difficult going back to apartment living. Neighbors, noise, no yard, and definitely no space for growing food, never mind even flowers! But luckily I have a pretty large deck that gets full sun all afternoon, so I have been investigating a few ways that I could plant a mini-garden of my own to grow some lettuce, tomatoes, and a few small things like basil and rosemary. While I could put little pots all along the railing, the complex doesn’t allow that – so I need to be sure to put my planters down below on the patio itself. Here are some options for starting a vegetable garden that I found that may work for me as an apartment dweller this planting season:

Topsy Turvy Planter

This is basically a small garden, enclosed in a bag, that is hung upside down – so the planted items grow down instead of up. Made by Topsy Turvy, gravity pulls the water from the root inside the bag to the plant. You just hang it up (or use a stand), water it, and it can grow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, and pretty much anything else that you can probably think of. Very clever.

The Earthbox

If you have 6-8 hours of direct sun per day, the Earthbox looks like it makes it pretty painless to grow a garden on your deck. Fill it with potting soil, pour water in the fill tube which fills up a reservoir, cover with plastic, cut holes in the plastic, plant your seedlings – voila, a garden in a self-watering, easy to use box. I may have to check this one out.

Join or start a public garden co-op

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It may or may not be possible depending on where you live, but many apartment and condo communities are setting aside a plot of land for co-op gardening. Individual plot “owners” have to take responsibilities on for the good of the whole garden, but you usually get to grow whatever you want in your garden area. And if your community doesn’t offer space for residents, sites like Hyperlocavore are helping people get started in “yard sharing” with other like-minded individuals, sharing space, tools, time, seeds, skills and food.

Start a window garden

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If you don’t have patio or deck space, why not at least grow a few herbs in a window garden? Using small pots, plastic bottles with the tops cut off, or even egg cartons, you can grow a small window garden on a ledge in your house that gets a lot of sun. People grow tomatoes in pots like this, and I plan on trying it as well.

Build it yourself

Mike Lieberman, the master of urban gardening, runs an amazing site called, obviously enough, Urban Organic Gardener. Although he had been in NYC for years, Mike just moved to Los Angeles and will start to blog again from there soon enough. But in the mean time, his site is a wealth of knowledge for Do It Yourself types, as he has been successfully gardening on his fire escape in the Brooklyn forever. I am really looking forward to seeing what he does in LA. Good luck Mike!

Do you have any tips/ideas for growing vegetables in containers for those of us living in apartments or condos? If so, please let us all know in the comments. After all, doesn’t everyone want fresh-from-the-garden vegetables all summer long?

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  1. I had to get rid of the Topsy Turvy because I couldn’t bring it inside during the cold Colorado Winter. But, everything else in containers I brought inside. This year I did tomatoes & herbs. Next year I hope to have more. At least a salad garden. Maybe some more nutrient dense foods, too.

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