No Excuses, Just Vegetables

Guest authorUrban gardening expert Mike Lieberman shares his tips.

The number one excuse that apartment dwellers have when it comes to growing their own vegetables is that they have no space. They also believe that growing one or two things is a complete waste.

These are just excuses. Lots of space isn’t required. What is required is a bit of creativity. It’s worth the time and effort if you grow even one herb or vegetable. It will make a difference.

Did you know that on average food travels 1,500 miles to get to our plates? By growing some of your own, it will help to cut back on the intensive resources that go into food production and transportation. It will also help you to re-establish your connection with food. There are plenty of simple reasons that I can list to grow your own food.

I started apartment gardening in the spring of 2009 on my fire escape in New York City. Despite being on 2′ x 3′, I was able to grow plenty of veggies. Since then, I’ve moved to Los Angeles and now have a balcony garden.

Growing veggies without much land can be your reality, too. Here’s how you can start your own vegetable container garden.

Decide on a Location

First thing is first. You need to pick the location where you are going to start. An important factor to take into consideration is how far from the water source your garden will be. The last thing you want to do is be carrying water through your apartment to your garden, but there are ways around that.

Don’t Just Think of the Floor

After deciding the where, you need to figure the area that you are working with. Don’t just think of the space on the ground. Think windowsills, ledges, railings and the space above you. Get creative.

Conditions of the Area

Figure out how much direct and indirect sunlight your space gets. If it gets at least 2-3 hours of direct sunlight, you are good to grow. My balcony garden is east facing and gets about 4-6 hours of early morning sunlight, so I grow what works best in those conditions.

What to Grow In

You can either go to the store and buy some containers or make self-watering planters, which is what I use. Self-watering planters use two containers and require little maintenance after they are built. They are constructed from two 5-gallon containers (you can get these from your local flower shop, deli, restaurant or farmers market for little to no money).

If you have the space to hang some plants, then you can use soda bottles to make hanging planters or buy new ones. Herbs such as basil, oregano and mint do well in these.

What to Grow

This is the big decision. What will you grow?

This could very well be determined for you by your space and sun conditions. Since I get limited sun on my balcony and use smaller containers, my selection is pretty small.

From there, you can grow things that you know you like and will eat or you can experiment with new veggies or new versions of veggies that you like. That’s up to you.

I always suggest growing greens and lettuces because they don’t get to be too big, grow pretty easily and you know that you’ll use them.

Herbs are the other thing that I recommend. They are likely the best economic value. When you buy herbs in the store, you have to buy a huge bushel when you only need a few pieces. Most usually goes to waste. By growing your own, you can take what you need and let it continue to grow. It’ll always be on hand.

No Excuses

Now you have a foundation to get your urban vegetable garden started. You don’t have to plant a ridiculous amount. Remember, just one plant will make a difference. We are humans. We grown food. Land, space, money and lack of experience shouldn’t be excuses. If I can do this, why can’t you?

Guest author Mike Lieberman is the man behind Urban Organic Gardener, where he share his expertise on urban gardening, green living, and real food. You can also connect with Mike on Twitter and Facebook.