Growing My Own Food...In My Apartment
I'm planning out a garden for this spring. I don't have any access to a yard to plant my garden in, but I have a balcony on my apartment that gets plenty of sun.
This is my first adventure in gardening, assuming you don’t count my stealing radishes from my grandmother’s garden as a child. Not only have I been reading up on container gardening, but on gardening in general. I’m also trying to be as frugal about the process as possible — repurposing containers and the like. I’ll be updating regularly as my garden progresses.
I’m starting small, because I’m not quite confidant of how all this will work out. I want to grow three types of herbs — parsley, rosemary and oregano — and tomatoes. That doesn’t sound as adventurous as the folks who manage to grow apple trees on their balconies, but these four items do make a regular appearance on my table. I’m confidant in my choices, and from my reading, they should all be able to grow in my climate (Maryland).
I still need to acquire my containers, but I’ll have them, for my herbs at least, within three weeks — the length of time it will take me to go through 3 half-gallons of milk. I got the idea off of our very own Wise Bread forums. Lucille described her approach for starting plants in the Frugal Gardening Tips thread:
I used half gallon clear plastic milk bottles as mini greenhouses for starting plants last year. These are the totally clear PET plastic. I cut them in half horizontally and cut notches into the top portion so I could push it down inside the bottom part. Drilled holes in the bottom of each bottle for drainage. I put dirt mix in the bottom then seeded & watered. I put the top back on along with the cap. I put all of these on one of those heavy duty metal wire shelving units that we put in front of our downstairs patio window.
As the seeds started to sprout and grow we gradually loosened and then removed the bottle caps and later the top half of the bottle. This worked great as little greenhouses. I then used some of the same bottles with just the bottom inch cut off as covers for the seedlings when I put them out. This gave the greenhouse treatment and some shelter to the plants in the early spring when it isn't very warm out yet. We got things going much earlier this way.
Lucille’s solution answered one of my biggest concerns — protecting seedlings from my cats until they’re big enough to take the cats’ curiosity. As the herbs grow, I may need to find other containers to transfer them to — but I’ve got some time to look for options. I know for sure that I’ll need a larger container for my soon-to-be tomatoes, and I’m on the lookout for a container that I can adapt to my purpose.
The only part of my container garden scheme that has me a bit worried is the germination process. It doesn’t seem particularly hard, but with the tomatoes, at least, a lot of my friends with greener thumbs have recommended that I consider buying seedlings from a local nursery.
Feel free to comment with advice. I know there are some important holes in my gardening knowledge.