When you think of a vegetable garden, you think of a big back yard with a hoe, shovel and garden hose. Oh, and a kid saying, “But I don’t wanna weed it!”
But get this…
You can grow your own little salads in your own little apartment. Carrots, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes…no green thumb necessary. It just takes a little green ingenuity.
For starters, you may think that you don’t have the room for it, and maybe some of you don’t, but one way around that is to use shelves. A bookshelf without the backside would be ideal. On the first shelf you could have lettuce. The second shelf you could have the carrots. The third shelf the radishes.
Another way is hanging baskets. Get creative!
Many apartment dwellers are already doing this. There are many apartment communities that have their own community garden.
Homeowners with small plots are growing gardens too. Though you may want to look at your HOA’s (homeowner’s association) “rule book” for that.
IT SETS THE MOOD!
Move over flowers and plants! Growing vegetables like tomatoes and lettuce can really set a relaxing mood. Just seeing, and knowing, that you are growing your own food year-round, even during the winter, can be a mood-enhancing, uplifting experience.
There have been many studies showing that depressed people were happier when they grew flowers and plants. Getting in touch with your spiritual side is a critical part of a brain healthy lifestyle.
When you’re feeling out-of-sorts, do you ever imagine plunging your hands into warm, sunny soil and immediately feel a little lift? People who are beginning to see their thumb turn green understand how pleasurable it is to putter in the dirt, and how relaxing it can be to make things grow.
Now research is proving what gardeners have always intuitively known—gardening is great for your mind and spirit:
- In 2009, a Norwegian study tracked the effectiveness of “therapeutic horticulture” in a group of clinically depressed patients. The patients experienced significant improvement of their depression symptoms, and were still less depressed at their 3-month follow-up.
- A 2011 article in the Journal of Health Psychology found that gardening for thirty minutes results in a drop in cortisol levels, the hormone produced by stress.
- In 2011, the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia researched the effects of gardening on spirituality, focusing on gardening’s spiritual benefits for people experiencing illness or the loss of a loved one.
CONTAINERS TO USE
You don’t need those traditional garden containers. Any water-proof container will work. Even a milk jug with the top cut off. As long as they are big enough to support a healthy root system and have adequate drainage, almost any container can be used to grow your soon-to-be lunch.
As a rule of (green) thumb, the bigger the plant, the bigger the container needs to be, and while shallow-rooted vegetables such as lettuce and other salad greens can be grown in a smaller container with just a couple of inches of soil, larger plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, peas, and beans will require larger containers.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Finding the right location for your gardenless vegetables is important, because even with the best soil and the best seed, plants won’t thrive without adequate sunlight. Duh, right? So you’ll want to choose a location with at least 6 hours or more of direct sunlight every day, so if you don’t have a spot that gets that much sun, you may have to move them once or twice throughout the day to keep them in the light.
Outdoor gardening is one way to enjoy fresh, local produce, but what if you don’t have space for soil beds? Using hydroponics, it’s easy to grow lots of edible plants in very small spaces all year round. There are a lot of benefits to growing crops and produce hydroponically; chief of all is the low intensity on resources and space. Due to the fact that these vegetables can be (and mostly are) grown within containers filled with soluble nutrients, there isn’t a need for a garden or even a window box—this means that they can be grown in extremely cramped conditions. No matter how you grow them, cool weather crops still do best when it’s not hot, and warm weather crops love the heat. They also need plenty of light; your vegetables are likely to need at least eight hours per day of direct sunlight.
Good quality potting soil can make all the difference, as it will be loose and friable enough for optimal root growth, will hold water for longer periods of time than plain ol’ dirt from the yard, and will also dry quickly enough (and maintain air spaces within it) to allow the plant’s roots to get oxygen.
BACK TO YOU
What do you think? Are you ready to get your hands dirty? Many people, both apartment dwellers and homeowners with small plots are already doing this. Youtube has a lot of videos. Do a search for “apartment gardening” and especially “urban gardening.”
Even people living in the city are growing a garden wherever they can.
Talk about a great stress reliever! Do you know someone who may get a kick out of this article? Send it to them!