When it comes to growing food at home, you aren’t as limited as you think.
Yes, you can have a thriving veggie garden – however limited for space you might be.
It’s great for your nutritional health, psychological wellbeing (studies have shown that just having a plant indoors is an instant mood-booster and that gardening totally counts as a meditative activity) and, of course, endless photo opportunities. (Succulents are so 2015, you guys.)
Now, when we talk about organic produce, we’re talking chemical-free food that’s grown in an environment that maintains its nutrient content and, of course, taste.
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If you’re in an apartment, there are a couple of things you need to consider:
1. Do you have a balcony?
If so, this is a great place to start. There’s plenty you can do with balcony space, including pot planting and raised garden beds.
If you have wall space, try creating your own herb wall. This doubles as a stunning feature (#ExteriorGoals) and will make you feel just a little smug when guests come over.
2. Where do you get sunlight?
When you choose your space inside, you want to look out for the lightest possible area. If there’s a place in your apartment that gets a couple of hours of morning sun, that’s the place. If the main sun you get is in the afternoon, this just means you’ll have to water your garden more regularly.
Once you’ve selected the location, you’re ready to plant. If you truly want organic produce, you need to remember that anything that goes in or on your garden will be taken up by your plant – and then consumed by you.
3. Make it organic
Certified organic soil
Soil can be a little confusing, as the word ‘organic’ is over-used, to say the least. There’s organic potting mix, premium potting mix and then certified organic potting mix.
There are two bodies in Australia that will certify soil, and that’s what you want to look out for. Certified organic will be the cleanest soil you’ll find, and organic potting mix is the next best thing.
Organic seeds or seedlings
Where possible, seek out certified organic seeds or organically grown seedlings. I love GreenPatch Seeds, but if you’re anywhere in Sydney, the amazing Jordan from Wormticklers Nursery has amazing organically grown seedlings that most of my garden is filled with!
Natural pest sprays and fertilisers
Growing food inside or on your balcony already knocks out pesky possums and bandicoots from eating your precious produce. But you still might need to manage some bugs, or boost your garden with a fertiliser.
Look out for things like volcanic rock dust, aged manures or if you have a great nursery near by, ask to buy some of their compost. For bug sprays, something like a neem oil or eco oil spray will take care of most things. And always look for a natural alternative – they are never far away!
Easiest plants to grow at home:
Stacey Demarco, author of Plants of Power, shares her go-to suggestions.
“I did a great, quick thing on our Facebook page about how to grow garlic in pots, and people got so excited about it because at the end they got their garlic and they were like, I’ve only got this small little part on my balcony and I was able to go garlic. This is great,” she tells host Felicity Harley on Body+Soul’s Healthy-ish podcast.
“Rosemary’s great. We call it a beginner’s plant,” she adds. It’s pretty hard to kill rosemary.
“Also the mints,” Demarco suggests. “You know, as long as you don’t over water or neglect it, give it some sunshine, it’s going to do great things. You can put that in your tea and in your food.”
#4 Butter Lettuce
“I’ve got a friend who I convinced to grow lettuce in a long box on the windowsill. It went well and people thought it was some exotic looking plant, but it was actually five squashed up lettuces together . And when it’s done, you know, you harvest it, you leave one to go to seed and then you have seeds for next year.”
“Sage, not just, you know, not just the medicinal sage, but the culinary sage, that’s doing really well. My sage is going crazy.”
Brooke Glew is a passionate gardener, nutritionist and the founder of Health Coach Army.