Sunday, March 25, 2012

Three Ways to Grow Food & Other Plants for Apartment Dwellers (Indoors/Outdoors)


3. Bottle & Terrariums: Terrariums are not typically used to grow food, however they are gorgeous for growing tropical plants in your kitchen, bathroom, and living room to create a peaceful and natural atmosphere in your home. Tropical plants love three things: heat, and dark moist soil.

The "art" of terrarium making is choosing the type of glass container. You could use an old, glass coffee pot, aquariums, mason jars, glass salad bowls, and glass viles. The pictures in this section will give you an idea of how to create innovative, recycled, and unique crafts for edibles or decorative plants.

Below are instructions on how you can make your own terrariums (from the Gardener's Eden):


photo Source: How to Reuse Your Plastic Bottles for Crafts 


Step One: Purchase pea gravel or find some small stones from nature (which is important for drainage.) Secondly, purchase sphagnum moss or find some moss from nature to hold in the soil and retain moisture (optional); and for native plants, purchase peat moss (if desired.) Lastly, purchase quality (organic), dry potting soil. Take this project to the next level by collecting materials from the park, woods, or stream for stones, bark, and twigs. Select and buy small plants from a local greenhouse/florist or through online resources. For food sources: grow strawberries, herbs, and aloe vera in terrariums.
Step Two: Fill the bottom of the glass container with about an inch or small layer of pea gravel.

Step Three: Add a layer of sphagnum moss (sometimes called sheet moss.)

Step Four: Add potting soil, and peat moss (if you are planting acid-loving natives like ferns and moss). Make a mound so the plant will be visible from all sides.

Step Five: Add materials you found -- just get creative with the structure; and moisten the jar thoroughly with a water-filled spray bottle. Let the contents settle for a few minutes.
Step Six: add your plant(s). Mist your terrarium thoroughly after planting and cover with the glass lid (if your jar or glass container came with one.) Check your plants over the next few days and water with your mister if they seem dry.


2. Vertical Gardening: This method for growing food and other plants is ideal, if you a fireplace or community gardening space in your neighborhood. Even if you have a little amount of space, you can make it work! Here are some photos that may inspire you to do the same:





Source: Eden Makers Blog



You can construct your own vertical tower or stand with old an old wood or metal ladder, book shelf, baby cribs, metal spring matress (to create trellises for cucumbers and squashes); or use pallets that are thrown out behind grocery stores. Another idea: you can purchase a Topsy Turvy planter for strawberries and tomatoes at Big Lots or Dollar Generals for dirt cheap! Topsy Turvys can be used outside or inside the house (perfect for renters.) The last photo, above, shows that someone used an old, cloth shoe wrack. 


For more ideas on how to recycle materials for vertical gardening, go here to scroll through photos: Pinterest "Vertical Gardening" or go here for using trellises at Pinterest "Trellis Gardening"

1. Container Gardening: The most common and most creative method of gardening, for apartment dwellers or renters, is using containers (because their cheap, and you can literally find containers for free on the side of the road.) Also, they don't have to be containers -- you can grow food in old boots, old stumps, or bottles. When it comes to gardening in containers, the options are endless, because there are varieties of plants that can thrive indoors or in a small space. Consequently, you need to be concerned about: what plants need more growing space (how big does the container need to be), what plants can grow in the shade (like parsley, garlic/chives, spearmint); and what plants need to grow in the sun (windowsill.) Actually, you can grow tropical fruit indoors, if you wanted to!
Source: Trash to Treasure
The first thing you should do is: choose plants you KNOW you will have time and resources to manage. The most popular plants to grow (for renters) are herbs, tomatoes, and peppers. But if you aren't a tomato or pepper eater, what's the point in growing those things? If you're favorite plants to eat are broccoli, strawberries, and kale -- then those are the plants you need to be growing. Choose 3-5 vegetabes and 4-5 herbs to grow.

If you cannot decide or you would like more of a variety and options, I would recommend buying the "Emergency Food Survival Seed Non-gmo Non-hybrid Variety Pack" on Amazon, which includes a large variety of organic, quality, vegetable, fruit, and herb seeds for VERY cheap. I bought this survival kit a few months ago, and I'll be using these seeds this summer to grow food. As of now, I have broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cilantro, peas, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, beets, and onions started indoors from the survival pack -- and they're doing great so far!



Source: Trash to Treasure


Source: Trash to Treasure

If you want EXPERT advise and tutorials (with videos) on how to create your own container garden, go here to check out CanarsieBK's youtube channel, which is full of information on this topic. He has lived in an apartment for years in New York; and he does videos on how to grow food with messages that are short, sweet, and to the point. Another expert gardener, whose messages are longer and in more detail, is John from Growingyourgreens on youtube -- he will give you MORE examples of vertical and container gardening, as well as how to make raised beds (if you have a yard); and John will give better tips on how to grow the best quality food.
Information on Terrariums from: The Gardener's Eden

Watch the video below by John Koehler discussing examples of Container Gardening, vertical gardening, and ways in which you grow food to conserve space:

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