How to grow a garden in an apartment or rental
Micro-dwarf tomatoes and parsley on a sunny windowsill. Microgreens and salad sprouts on the counter. Mushrooms atop the fridge. There is plenty you can do!
Mint will sprout roots and flourish in a glass of water. Try resprouting your green onion stubs.
Do it with your kids. Do it with your neighbors. Do it as a fun new hobby for yourself.
If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony, grow vegetables in flowerpots, in hanging baskets, in containers you’ve reclaimed from the bin.
Try vermicomposting — a compost system that uses just red wiggler worms. You can do it indoors! It keeps your kitchen scraps out of the landfill and reintegrates them into the cycles of life. Connect with a local school garden and donate the worm castings. They’ll love you for it!
Why so much effort for what is admittedly a small quantity of food? To reconnect you to the cycles of growth and life.
That’s because we’ve noticed: when people are disconnected from the soil, they lose touch with Nature’s cycles.
But we need to be in touch with Nature’s systems, her life-affirming forces, in order to understand true environmental solutions.
So we encourage gardening.
The ecosystems approach
In a healthy, organic garden, that soil is rich with life: Earthworms, beetles, all scurrying about. Springtails, centipedes, bacteria, fungi, and microscopic organisms.
Each of these soil critters has a role in decomposition, each of them helps in making nutrients available to the roots of your plants. And, they all work together as an ecosystem.
Rather than thinking about “taking care of your plants,” I invite you to look deeper. Examine your soil. How healthy is it? How alive is it?
Focus on how to take care of the diversity of soil organisms. Provide what they need to thrive. (Hint: they need food, water, shelter and protection).
You can try it with your covid-lockdown “plant pets” (houseplants). Better yet, try growing a little of your food. And reconnect.
- see also:
- Vegetables Gone Wild (pdf) – how to “guerrilla garden” your food. Also, seedbombs!
- Food from a Flowerpot, by Joanne Poyourow — how to grow organic vegetables and herbs in any type of container
- here’s an excellent book about growing food in tiny spaces … Ruppenthal, R. J. (2008). Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener’s Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting (Illustrated ed.). White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.
- here’s how to start worm composting … Wilhelmi, C. (2009, December 31). New Home Construction for Worms. Retrieved September 6, 2021, from https://gardenerd.com/blog/new-home-construction-for-worms/
- Guerra, M., & Books, G. (2000). The Edible Container Garden: Growing Fresh Food in Small Spaces. New York, New York: Fireside.
- Joanne’s favorite soil building resources
- coming soon: When you don’t have any land, ebook by Joanne Poyourow. How-to’s for everything from guerilla gardening to garden sharing to seedbombs to starting up a community garden from scratch.
Other resources for renters
- see also:
- ways to cope with summer heat
- what’s wrong with bottled water?
- Greener gifting
- why we recommend ditching plastic (everything from garden gimmicks to plastic bags) … see The Story of Stuff Project. (2019, April 21). The Story of Plastic: Where Your Recycled Plastic Ends Up (video run time 4:15) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/urFZ5o0az_4
- Orsi, J. (2009). The Sharing Solution (How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Build Community) (1st ed.). Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press. … check out her section on Garden Sharing!
Companion post: 6 Things You Can Do Now About Global Warming