Gardening on a budget AND in an apartment
Today I really feel like sharing a few gardening tips with you as I believe that growing your own food, at least some of it, is one of the most sustainable things you can do. But I’m also aware that having a garden is a luxury to many and that’s really too bad. I just wish the rooftops of apartment buildings could be converted into urban farms, giving their inhabitants a nice place to chill and fresh produce to eat. Who knows, maybe that will happen one day! In the meantime, let’s talk container gardening my friends. That’s something you can do even indoors.
I recently moved from a duplex with garden in Belgium to a flat with balcony in Norway, and had a little quarantine break at my parent’s house in the French countryside inbetween. I had to get some supplies and in case you didn’t know, Norway is crazy expensive so I tried to think of smart ways to cut on costs.
Grow from seeds. It may seem convenient to buy plant starts or seedlings but it definitely isn’t a good deal at all. For the price of one seedling, you can buy an entire bag of seeds, if not two. And you do the math: one seed equals one plant.
Use cuttings. This method is super simple. You need to do is cut a 10 cm stem right under a leaf and place it in water or directly in soil after you removed the lowest leaves. After a few days, roots will start to grow and the plant will develop. This work particularly well for herbs like mint or basil.
Grow from food scraps. I mean, we’ve all seen the buzzfeed videos where they place carrot tops into a bowl of water and then pretend the carrots grow back. Sorry to break it to you, but it doesn’t get you brand new carrots. however, the tops grow and you can eat them, or wait until they give you seeds. Same thing with lettuce, onions and garlic. But did you know you can also plant the seeds you find in your food? Peppers, chillies, tomatoes or beans are great for that.
Forage your supplies. OK, now you’ve got your plants to grow, but you need to grow them in something, right? Technically, you can even forage the soil, but it’s not very nice to dig up a hole in the neighbours lawn. If you find a spot, do it though! You can also look for sand and gravels to drain your pots and planters swell as bamboo sticks or straight branches to use as garden canes.
Repurpose or build your own. I saw here how expensive pots and planters can get. Luckily, you can build planters from pallet wood, reclaimed boxed, old tires and even empty cans. For that, pinterest will be your best friend. Also, it doesn’t hurt to check the second hand market for large pots.
Make your own fertiliser. This one is optional, but you might need it. Ideally and if you have enough space, you can make compost on a balcony. But if you don’t, you can easily make fertilizer with things like banana peels or coffee grounds. If your plants catch diseases, there are a lot of natural solutions you can make from household products like dish soap and oil.
Now with all these good tips in mind, all you have to do is decide what you want to grow but there is one thing to take into consideration. Will your plants have access to the outdoors? The reason behind this is that some fruits and veggies will need to be pollinated in order to develop, like tomatoes and peppers. If you have a balcony or if your window sills are large (and secure) enough to welcome your plants for a few days, you’re all good and can grow pretty much anything. If not, you can still grow things like herbs, leafy greens, leek or potatoes.