We wanted to share some details about this year’s apartment garden. We’ve been cobbling together gardens at various apartments for years, but we’re lucky to have a decent space at our current apartment that allows us to grow a more substantial garden. This year is definitely our best garden yet!
We love supporting local growers and nurseries. However, one of my goals for this year’s garden was to grow all of the plants 100% from seed.
Since we upgraded our indoor growing setup this winter, we were all set to do this. In previous years, I’ve never really had a good enough grow light. That meant my tomatoes always got hopelessly leggy and spindly before they were ready to go in the ground. This year, though, with our new setup, we had a surplus of gorgeous, healthy tomato, pepper, and basil starts.
Starting seeds indoors isn’t too hard after investing in some initial equipment. I’ve found that apartment gardening is so much more rewarding when you’ve grown every single plant yourself from seed.
Hardening Off the Plants
I’m a little obsessive about properly hardening off my seedlings. This is also as much about making sure they get enough light once they’re too big to stay under the grow light. Starting in early May, I moved the plants in and out most days. On warmer nights, I’d leave them outside, but I was pretty conservative about bringing them in if temps dipped too low.
I feel like this step was pretty crucial in giving the plants enough time and sunlight to keep growing before the weather was ready for them to go in the ground. Especially for sun-loving plants like tomatoes, taking the time to properly harden them off is important.
Planning the Layout
With very limited space, we tend to crowd plants together maybe more than we should. We also didn’t really have the option to rotate anything like I would have liked.
I’ve grown tomatoes in pretty much the exact same spots for the last two years, and unfortunately, those are really the only spots that get enough light to grow them. The only real way to rotate anything was just to make sure that I didn’t plant the exact same types of tomatoes in the same spot as last year.
I made it a point to move the zucchini over a little bit, and swap in some root vegetables where it used to be.
Laying the Drip Line
Last year, we used a drip line. We simply spiraled it out on top of the soil, though. This year, Dan insisted on burying it a couple of inches down. It was a pain to remove the top few inches of soil from the garden, but well worth it. I highly recommend taking the time to properly bury a drip line, if you’re going ot use one.
We can tell that the buried line is doing a much better job of saturating the soil. When it just sat on top, the water pooled up quickly, and mostly evaporated before really sinking in to give the roots a good soaking.
We planned out where each plant was going to go before burying the drip line, so that they’d all have the dripline running nearby. In the photo above, you can see the tomatoes and basil freshly planted in the ground. A few other plants are sitting outside, hardening off and waiting for us to figure out where their permanent home will be.
Once again, I wanted to do things the lazy way and Dan convinced me to invest a little more time up front to do them right. This meant digging down about 8″, stripping off the bottom few branches of the tomato plants, and planting them in a nice deep hole.
Once the plants were in the ground, there’s been very little maintenance. I spend some time regularly weeding (we need to start incorporating some weed control methods into our gardening!), and turn on the drip line every other day, or if the plants are looking particularly droopy.
Our Apartment Garden Yield so Far:
As far as the mid-season stuff, so far we’ve only gotten one zucchini, but there are a few others that are just about ripe. We’ve gotten enough eggplant to whip up a batch of baba ganoush. And we’ve got all the basil we could possibly need.
Our Chile Pequin plant, shown in the pic above, is definitely the most abundant. I’ve counted well over 100 ripe peppers on there, and it’s still going. We’re growing this on in a pot right next to the garden, and its yield is incredible.
We’re also practically swimming in tomatoes, and are enjoying a steady supply of garden fresh salsa.
As our apartment garden this year is proving, it’s definitely possible to get a substantial yield even from a tiny growing space. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s grown a similar apartment garden. Leave a comment and let me know what’s worked for you!