Apartment Gardening

22 Jul

For years, I’ve grown herbs on window sills and balconies, but this year I realized I could grow so much more. We’re growing a much larger amount and bigger variety of edible plants in my girlfriend’s parents backyard, so this inspired us to start a mini-garden on our large balcony.

We’re still growing herbs – hearty basil and some newish parsley that will probably look more like a bush in a few weeks:

A friend of mine from LA brought us this tea herbs mixture of mint, pineapple mint, and lavender. I’ve yet to make tea with it, but all of the herbs are doing well:

We also experimented with lettuce, but after falling a couple times and being crushed (it was so sad), it’s looking a bit pathetic:

I ran into this beautiful pepper at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago and couldn’t resist. We need to re-pot it but it’s been pretty happy so far, even though we only have direct sunlight for a few hours during the day:

I think I’m most exciting about the red onions and sweet peas though. Sweet peas like shade so I think they’ll do well. Right now though, they’re still pretty small and have yet to flower:

Onions like full sun best so growing them is a bit of an experiment, but I can’t tell you how fun it is to walk out onto the balcony in the evening and grab a few spring onions to throw in the salad.

And to round things out, we’re growing some non-edible plants too:

Whether you have a backyard, front yard, balcony, porch, or just a window sill, Oakland is a perfect place to grow produce so consider giving it a try. We give our plants minimal care and they’ve been thriving so I’m sure anyone could do it, though it might seem intimidating at first. If you’re completely new at gardening, I recommend checking out the resources at StopWaste.org – they have a ton of free resources on East Bay gardening. If you do give gardening a try, let me know how it goes.


5 Responses to “Apartment Gardening”

  1. David July 23, 2008 at 12:33 am #

    I’m jealous. I get a lot of sun, but alas, I have no balcony or backyard, and repeated efforts to grow some basil on the windowsill have failed for some reason (strange, since I’ve had good experience in other apartments with similar amounts of sun).

    I’m house-sitting right now for someone with a backyard garden, and it’s been great. Almost my entire dinner tonight came from the backyard (summer squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, tomatoes), and it’s really making me wish I had space for some food-growing. Urban gardening is going to be more and more necessary as the price of food and transportation keeps rising.

    I might go check out Novella Carpenter’s “farm” at 28th and MLK on Friday, when she is opening it to the curious. Maybe you should stop by too, for some additional inspiration.

  2. Becks July 23, 2008 at 11:45 am #

    That sounds fun, but I’ll be in DC 😦 Told my girlfriend about it though and she might stop by.

    I’ve always had the most problems with basil, compared to any other herb – the bugs love it the most and it’s fairly sensitive. If you’re looking to grow herbs indoors, I’d recommend steering towards herbs like parsley, oregano, or mint. Also, if you can find it and if you like making beans, I highly recommend growing epazote. It’s the heartiest herb we’re growing and takes beans to a whole new level.

    Also, you might do some research to find out if there’s a community garden in your neighborhood. If there’s not one now, I wouldn’t be surprised if one popped up soon, as they seem to be getting more popular.

  3. jarichmond July 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    I recently started the same thing, although I have a pretty small collection so far. My two best growing plants by far are basil and catnip right now. The catnip is going particularly nuts, and I swear that it grows faster than I can cut it back. I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with this much of it…

    I also have the problem of only getting a few hours of sunlight per day, so I’ve been limited in what I can plant, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well it’s been taking off. My growing spot is a patio that’s wedged between the building and about an 8 foot retaining wall, so it’s pretty much only right around noon that they see light. I haven’t quite figured out what to grow in the way of vegetables yet, considering my lack of sunlight, but anything that does well in partial shade seems to be doing well so far.

  4. Becks July 25, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    For shaded areas, I recommend trying lettuce. Though it didn’t work out too well on our balcony because we abused it, it’s growing like crazy in a shaded part of the yard we’re growing in. Lettuce actually prefers to be in an at least partially shaded area. Otherwise, it grows too tall and bolts – it becomes tough and bitter, almost like an entirely different plant.

  5. Becky Ezra March 12, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    small question, i didnt put net because i am afraid that the flowers will not get the bees or any other insect for getting a fruits, how does it works at your balcony. thanks

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