garden on balcony

How to Create a Small Apartment Garden and Compost Box

October 1, 2010 | Apartment Lifestyle, Green Living

You’re used to living in a suburban or country environment with a big backyard and a beautiful garden. Suddenly, because of work or other obligations, you’re forced to move to the city. This can be a bit of a culture shock. Or maybe you’re used to city living, but want something to brighten up your apartment. Either way, a beautiful apartment garden can be the solution to your problem. It’s not hard to create a small apartment garden and compost box for your patio or balcony, and it can really make a huge difference. Here are some tips for creating an apartment garden.

Creating Your Apartment Garden:

  • Outdoor Space: Ideally, you will have access to some outdoor space if you’re going to have an apartment garden. Plants and other flora need sunlight to survive and grow, and it’s sometimes hard to get sufficient sunlight for an actual garden indoors—not to mention that you’ll need a place to put the soil. Even a small patio or outdoor balcony should be sufficient. Make sure that if the area is shared, you have permission to create your apartment garden.
  • Containers: You’ll need containers for the soil in which you are going to plant. You should use containers that are as big as you can practically manage. Remember, the larger the container, the more soil your plant will have to grow in, meaning the root growth will be less restricted and the soil will hold more water. To maximize the impact or your watering, consider layering mulch or pebbles under the soil to trap moisture. If your container doesn’t have drainage holes, the rocks will serve as a holding place for excess water. If it does have drainage holes, make sure you place a tray beneath it to catch run-off.
  • Compost Box: Once you know what you’re going to do with respect to containers, you can create a compost box to make plant-fortifying compost. This is good for the environment as well as your plants. Find a place where you can keep your compost, then add three inches of soil to a plastic or metal box. Punch holes in the sides and base of the box and put a tray underneath. Mix in some nut shells, old newspaper, or dry grass clippings. Add vegetable trimmings, egg shells, coffee grounds, shredded newspaper, egg cartons, and other compostables regularly. Mix them into the compost and keep the lid on the box to avoid unpleasant smells. Do not add cat or dog waste, fat, oil, or meat. Stir and water the compost once a week. You should have new compost in 3-6 months. As needed, put the compost in your garden containers to grow your plants.
  • The Plants: Your next step will be deciding what to plant in your apartment garden. You need to decide what your goal is in your garden. You may choose attractive flowering plants, vegetables, or some combination of these. The plants you choose should be ones that will thrive under the conditions you have created for them such as the amount of light, heat, and size of your planter. If you don’t exactly have a green thumb, check out our list of hard-to-kill plants.

Once you’ve gotten your garden set up, all that’s left is to care for it. Make sure it gets the right amount of sun, water regularly and add compost as needed. Enjoy your garden!

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