Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gardening for the Apartment Prepper

     This post may be a little late in coming seeing as we are now well into the summer months, and at this point most people who are going to garden have already started a garden.  However for those of you out there who live in an apartment and despair of ever having a garden of your own, there are some great and easy ways to supplement your food with home grown veggies.  Best of all, if you want to start a garden you can do it right in your apartment, so it actually isn't too late to start at all.

     Many people rule out the idea of prepping in an apartment.  There is no space inside to store things and no space outside to grow things and make yourself more self-sufficient.  Gardening is one of those things, as improbably as it seems, and it won't even take up as much space as you think.

1. Container Gardening

     The name explains it.  You can grow your garden in a container.  Whether you want to start a garden on an apartment balcony or right in your apartment, containers are a great way to go.  Each of your plants gets its own space this way, and you can organize and arrange your garden throughout your apartment. 

     For example you may have a few pots of herbs in the kitchen.  Instead of a decorative ficus tree in the living room, perhaps you'll have a tomato plant or a dwarf fruit tree.  Try a tiered pot for growing strawberries.  You can get creative with your pots, having them as big or small as you like and you can also use just about anything to be a container.  You can buy containers, make them, or even recycle something else into a container.

     You can have as small a garden or as big a garden as you like with containers.  Perhaps start with one pot and then add pots as you gain more confidence or find more plants you'd like to try to grow.

Try some of these great container ideas for an apartment:

2. Hanging Gardens

     That's right, as in hanging from your ceiling.  Many plants grow just as well hanging from a basket or even hanging upside down as they do in a regular pot or garden plot.  It may sound strange but hanging our gardens from the ceiling allows us to take advantage of space that we rarely use.

     You can grow this way along windows or in the middle of room.  You could use an overhead pot hanger to hang plants instead of pots, giving you a great kitchen herb garden.  They ways you can grow a hanging garden are only limited by your creativity.

If your interested check out window farms or make your own!:

3. Vertical Gardens

     As you saw with the hanging gardens, growing vertically is not a bad idea.  As humans we tend to use our space horizontally, leaving a lot of the vertical space we inhabit empty.  For example a wall.  What do we do with a wall?  Well you can put a clock on it.  That certainly is useful.  However you really don't need more than one clock.  You can put pictures on it.  That's a great way to have photos of friends and family.  You can also hang up art.

     So if you have space for art on your walls, you may want to consider setting up some edible art.  Yes indeed, I'm talking about growing a garden on your wall.  You can grow them on an inside wall or an outside wall such as on a balcony.  In fact if your thinking of starting a balcony garden, its a great way to maximize your garden space.

Here are some different ways you start your own vertical garden:

4. Community Gardens

     Not everyone wants to bring dirt into their apartment.  In this case you can go find a place to do your gardening.  In recent years community gardens have started becoming more popular, especially in urban areas.

     Community gardens are sometimes taken care of by a whole group of people in the area, and the bounty is shared between everyone who works on the garden.  Other times each person gets a plot of land to grow their own vegetables on.  In many cases you have to pay to be able to garden in one of these community gardens, however they are generally not too expensive.  Certainly less expensive than buying all your vegetables from the supermarket, instead of picking them fresh from the vine.

     There is also the added benefits of social interaction with others who enjoy gardening, and the ability to share and pass on food production knowledge.  Try looking for a local community garden online, through your local newspaper, or a local community center.
5. Guerilla Gardening

     Guerilla gardening is when someone plants a garden on land that is not legally theirs.  Now I am not saying, go take over your neighbor's backyard to start a garden, or anyone's backyard for that matter.  However, there are plenty of areas of unused dirt where plants could be grown.  Generally a guerilla gardener will take over an area of vacant or neglected land to clean up and make into a product garden.  This can be anything from an abandoned lot in a neighborhood to that small patch of dirt next to the sidewalk.  Think of it as an impromptu community garden.

     When guerilla gardening you will be using land that is not your own, so you want to be careful with selecting a site for a guerilla garden to make sure that using the land will not get you in trouble.  This is why vacant lots are good target because there is no one living there or taking care of the land to be bothered if you use it for you own garden.

     Another thing to consider with guerilla gardening, especially in urban areas, is contamination.  Before growing foods in a vacant lot or next vacant buildings you want to make sure that whatever the land was used for before it became vacant is not going to effect your plants.  Many vacant lots next to old factories and businesses can have chemical contamination.  If there are toxins in the soil your planting in, your plants will absorb those toxins, and if you eat the plant you will be eating the toxins as well.

     There is another form of guerilla gardening, sometimes referred to as stealth gardening or forest gardening.  This is where people plant different edible plants in parks, forests, and even roadside ditches.  The plants are left to grow wild and they can be harvested by anyone walking by.  For those that want a garden that would survive post collapse and not provide a target to those looking to steal food, this is a great option.  It provides a garden that isn't instantly recognizable as a garden, but which can still provide a great deal of food.

     So for those of you who have always thought you can't garden because your in an apartment or because you don't have any outdoor space, think again.  Try one of these out and you'll be surprised how much food you can grow in space you didn't even know you had.


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