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2012-08-21 08.40.02

Living in an apartment has some benefits like lower electric bills, motivation to keep clutter low, and not being responsible when the water heater brakes. It also has some set backs. One of my biggest irritations with living in an apartment is not having land to plant a nice big garden to provide us with all the food and herbs we will need from spring to fall.

Last year we moved from our house in Washington to our apartment in Colorado in late June. I didn’t have a lot of plants, but I kept a few herbs that I use regularly, a tomato plant, and an egg plant plant.

Last year I was in denial thinking our home in Washington would actually sell in a reasonable amount of time and we would be moved into a house by now.

This year I have accepted my fate of being an apartment dweller for at least another year and really buffed up my apartment garden. This year I have lettuce, onions (more for pest control than to eat), five tomato plants (that I bought as seedlings), six pepper plants that I started myself, summer and winter squash (I am going to try vertical gardening), strawberries, chives, parsley, cilantro, lavender, rosemary, thyme, echinacia, carrots, potatoes, and chamomile.

2012-06-07 07.26.42

We also have a compost bin made of a plastic storage tub to help reduce our waste output and help fertilize the plants.

I am glad we at least have an apartment garden because it helps me focus and brings a since of peace and relaxation when I am out there working with my plants. Even when there is a toddler “helping” me I really feel focused and connected to nature again.

As I have mentioned before I have a bad back and pushing out another 9 1/2lb baby did not help any. Having the plants up at waist height is wonderful for my back. If there is any heavy lifting to be done I have my husband do it. I don’t need to kneel on the ground hunched over anything. I love it.

When the veggies come in it will help us reduce our grocery bill. I bought the expensive, organic, all natural potting soil to plant my plants in. I spent about $150 all together on seeds/soil/plants/planters this year. If my veggies produce well it will save me about $30-50 a week in produce shopping from July-October. That is well worth the 30 minutes a day I invest.

Here are some tips for a porch garden:

  1. Check your apartment’s guidelines for patio planting. Some apartments think it is an “eyesore” and will not allow a porch garden.
  2. Keep things neat and clean and smelling nice so your neighbors don’t complain.
  3.  Know what plants you will use most. Herbs are pretty easy to grow and hard to kill. If you are afraid of having a brown thumb they are a good place to start. If you know your family will eat a lot of tomatoes, grow some! Don’t plant anything you wont use. You are very limited on space so this is not the best time to experiment with different food choices.
  4. Be sure whatever you are choosing to grow will grow well in a pot. Deep root carrots, for example, would not do well growing in a pot. I got dwarf carrots that seem to be doing well in the pots around my other plants. Tomatoes need very large pots for their extensive root system. We are using Topsy Turvey’s this year hoping to increase the tomato harvest. We are hoping the hanging tomatoes will floursh because they will get more sun exposure than the potted plant. So far the potted tomato plant is much larger than the hanging plant. I’ll keep you posted as to which works better for us.
  5.  Start your seeds at the right time of or buy already sprouted plants. I started my seeds inside on my counter in February so they would be healthy enough to plant outside once it stopped freezing and got a little warmer. I even had to re-home some pepper plants because so many survived. This extends your growing season getting more fresh food earlier in the year.
  6. Use the correct kind of soil. Look for organic potting soil that uses natural ingredients for fertilizer instead of artificial petroleum based nutrients . I used FoxFarm Ocean Forest Organic Potting Soil and Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil. Of the two FoxFarm works much better, but it is also four times the cost.
  7.  Take good care of your plants. Check in on them every day, water them as often as they need (mine vary from every other day to twice a day depending on the weather). If you notice bugs are eating your plants take good care to fondle the plant untill you find the little bugger that is eating it. We are plagued with caterpillars this year eating my lettuce and peppers! Those buggers take big bites too! There are natural ways to rid your plants of pesky pests. I will post about it soon! Meanwhile Google is your friend.
  8. Harvest them when the food is ready. The more often you harvest from your herbs, the bigger the plants will grow! Harvest your fresh fruits and veggies at the peak of ripeness for great tasting healthy food. I wonder if picking fruit signals the plant to make more as well?
  9. Enjoy the fruits of your labor! It may have been a lot of work picking all those pesky caterpillars off of your plants but it was worth it! The food is about as local as you can get. It is fresh off of the vine bursting with flavor. I promise home grown tomatoes so much better tasting than store bought.

The more you grow the more you will learn about planting, the more you know the less you will kill. I learn something new almost every day from my little porch garden! I had a black thumb once but I am cheap and stubborn and kept starting a garden every year. I am still not a master gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but I am learning and loving every moment I get to spend in my little “homesteading” garden.

Do you have a garden no matter how small? Do you grow herbs or hard to kill plants indoors? How do you work with your little homestead?

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More blogs in this series:

How to be an apartment homesteader

Apartment homeasteading: PORCH GARDEN

APARTMENT HOMESTEADING: MAKE YOUR OWN CLEANING PRODUCTS

APARTMENT HOMESTEADING: MAKE YOUR OWN PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS

APARTMENT HOMESTEADING: LEARN TO COOK

APARTMENT HOMESTEADING: SHOP LOCALLY AND EAT SEASONALLY

 

Shared on: Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Frugal Tip Tuesday, Show Me What Ya Got, Traditional Tuesday, Tiny Tip TuesdayFrugal Days Sustainable Ways, Healthy2Day , Homemaking Link Up, Penny Pinching Party, Works for Me WednesdaySimple Lives ThursdayWhats Cluckin,  DIY LinkyFrugal Friday, Say G’Day, Saturday Show and TellLink and GreetHomesteading Blog Carnival, Monday Mania

 

About Amanda

Amanda is a mother of two amazing toddlers. She is an herbalist, natural living guru, and real food, gluten free eating pro. She loves to help educate others on how to take control of their own health through natural living, real food, herbs, essential oils, and most of all - a positive mind set. Her other business Natural Herbal Living Magazine is all about helping people learn about how to use one herb a month on a deep and profound level.
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20 Responses to Apartment Homesteading: Porch Garden

  1. Hey that’s awesome! It doesn’t matter the size of your homestead – you can make one anywhere! And it’s not about how big or small your garden is – GOOD for you for trying to grow your own food. Garden’s aren’t always easy and we sometimes have plants that grow slow, die or just never sprout up. So many books and websites say to start small when growing…we never did that we started BIG from day one and like you say the more you grow the more you will learn. 🙂 Our herb garden is going crazy!! I just hung up a bunch the other day to dry. Our tomatoes are doing wonderfully and we’ve already harvested quite a bit from our garden – so we’ve been busy canning and freezing! 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      Thats great! We just got hot weather this last week so my tomatoes are just blooming. All I have gotten from my garden so far is lettuce, a lot of lettuce but it is a start! Tomatoes are flowering, squash is growing, and my herbs are very happy. So far so good!

  2. […] How to be an apartment homesteader: Porch Garden […]

  3. Jeanette says:

    Interesting you can grow so much from your patio. I do a herb garden each spring…really helps me cooking:).

  4. bugs says:

    I too luve in an apartment and tried the garden thing. i spent $85 on pots and soil and seedlings in an effort to save money and they all died despite my efforts 🙁 You must be much better at this than me I think! Your garden looks amazing; I’m glad its a source of joy for you as well as food.

  5. Great tips! We did this when we lived in an apartment. I loved it!

  6. Once again, another great gardening post! I love your amazingly efficient use of space! We did something similar when we were in our condo a couple years ago 🙂 Thanks for sharing at Tiny Tip Tuesday!

  7. Excellent gardening post! I just hopped over from Nature’s Nurture. I had a similar garden when I lived in an apartment.

  8. Mackenzie says:

    Thank you for sharing with us on Saturday Show and Tell. I hope you’ll join us again this week!
    -Mackenzie
    http://www.cheeriosandlattes.com

  9. Caren says:

    I don’t have much room either, so I really should do this. I love how you are making the best of what room you do have. It looks like you really know what you’re doing. I can’t wait to hear about the harvest!

    I would love it if you would share this at my new Smart Solutions linky party. You can link up here:

    http://theprudentpantryblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/prudent-projects-smart-solutions-linky_13.html

    Have a great day!

  10. […] Gardening Advantages You Need to Know AboutGreen Fingered, Green MindedHow To Have A Greener GardenApartment Homesteading: Porch Garden […]

  11. Way to go. From very few plants to a variety of herbs and vegetables that you could really use and eat. The best thing about having a garden is that you get to pick the produce every now and then, that is a real bliss!

  12. Erin says:

    Hi! I was wondering about your compost system. How do you do it? I’m assuming just bacteria break it down? Or do you add worms? Do you use brown material and kitchen scrapes? How long did it take to get usable compost? And how do you get it out? 🙂 I live in an apartment and have grown herbs and tomatoes quite successfully, but haven’t tackled composting which would give me confidence to do more. Thanks!

    • Amanda says:

      I need to write another post on that. I had a big tote that I drilled holes in the bottom and sides every 2-3 inches so that it could “breathe” and get rid of extra water so it wouldn’t mold. I then used it and treated it as a worm compost bin using the ratios of wet/dry/brown materials that any worm system would have. I had worms in there too that were just from the ground. Nothing special. I kept this on my back porch which was shaded all day and it turned into usable compost in about 6 months.

      • Erin says:

        Thanks! I’ll try this when we move again in January! Just need a plan to keep the toddler and preschooler out. Maybe their own? 🙂

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