When people think of gardening, they often picture a sizeable outdoor space set aside in a backyard. For those that live in apartments, this is not always possible. In New York City, this idea causes people to believe they can’t have a beautiful garden in their own homes. While it may take a little bit of knowledge, indoor gardening is possible. Many different varieties of plants can grow in smaller environments. This means that living in an NYC apartment doesn’t stop you from growing your luscious garden.
Home gardening can play an important role when it comes to staying healthy, fit, and in touch with nature. First, you’ll have easy access to fresh herbs and produce. This can allow you to eat healthier and spend less money at a grocery store. In New York, this is one less expense. Removing these costs can decrease your finances and help you save money, especially home cooks. Also, you won’t have to worry about any added chemicals or toxins in your greens since you’ll know exactly what’s being used to grow them. Lastly, studies show that when people live with plants, their health can increase. This is because plants exhale oxygen. As more oxygen releases, it provides healthy air for you to breathe. Having clean air from plants is stress relieving and can lower your blood pressure, too.
As you can see, there are plenty of benefits to home gardening in NYC. Let’s take a look at how to get started.
Table of Contents
Important Information about Home Gardening
Before starting your home garden, there are many things to consider. Your lifestyle and space may dictate what kinds of plants you’re able to grow successfully.
Know that most plants require some maintenance. Depending on the kind of plant, this can range from daily to weekly work. Because of this, it’s always essential to think about how much time you have to care for your plants. They are living beings who need attention. Setting up a watering schedule can help you stay on track.
Consider how much lighting is available in your home. Do you have a windowsill that lets in sunlight? Dedicate it as your planting area. Most house plants thrive in the sun, so giving them this area will increase their health. Even if you don’t have this, there are options for you. Investing in artificial natural light bulbs that mimic the sun’s rays will help your plant grow, even if there isn’t much natural light. This is an excellent alternative for smaller apartments.
Speaking of space, you should be able to allow a decent amount of room for your plants. They will grow and take up a more substantial area as time passes. A decent-sized windowsill, a table near a window, or a well-lit room is perfect. Make sure you have ample space around your plants. When they sprout, they will significantly expand in size.
One of the best ways to keep your plants healthy is by using the proper soil and pots. Make sure you have pots with good sized holes for drainage. Also, your soil should be nutrient-rich and able to hold water well. If willing, worms improve the health of plants. Letting them roam in your potting soil may increase the yield of your plants.
How to Start Your Indoor Garden
When you’ve informed yourself of things to keep in mind when starting an indoor garden, it’s time to begin. Before you start, make sure you have some essential tools on hand. Consider purchasing a watering can or bottle, spray bottle, hand spade, scissors, and a mat. The mat will protect your floor, table, or windowsill from messes. Alternatively, you can use a newspaper.
Next, you should determine which kind of plants you’re interested in keeping. Each requires different amounts of attention and time frames. You can grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and houseplants in an apartment. While some are easier than others, none are impossible for dedicated people. We’ll go into each kind below.
Growing fruits in an apartment can save you money and encourage you to eat healthier. One downfall of a lot of fruits is they need a good amount of and space. However, there are many kinds of fruits that are suitable for apartment living and container gardens.
When growing fruits in a small space, you must make sure they get enough water. Depending on the plant, you should identify how often it’s recommended to water them. This information will come from the seed packet you get. If you prefer to save time and energy, getting an already sprouted fruit plant will also work. Here, you’ll have to report it and read the feeding instructions located on the tag.
Some of the best fruits you can grow in NYC include avocados, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, and other citrus fruits. These stay relatively short and cultivate in small environments well. Additionally, New York weather is perfect for these, especially if left indoors. Remember, you can grow whatever fruits you want to as long as you follow each instruction for proper growth.
Just like fruits, vegetables are one of the most desirable plants to grow in apartments. Doing so can save you time and money when cooking. If you grow vegetables in your NYC apartment, you’ll never have to run out to the store to pick up vital ingredients.
Vegetables tend to be leafier than fruits. They also require less attention, as they’re less fragile and hardier. Additionally, veggies thrive in compost and nutrient-dense soil. To make this, you can keep organic material like dried leaves, shredded paper, and food scraps. These will begin to break down and release necessary compounds for the veggies to thrive in. Because compost takes a long time to break down, if you don’t want the hassle, you can purchase some at your local gardening store.
Unlike fruits, vegetables need more sunlight but should get watered much less. This makes it more convenient for some, as you can leave them alone for a more extended period of time. As long as you have ample sunlight, you can grow vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and leafy greens like spinach. If you don’t have access to sunlight but want to grow vegetables, mushrooms are a great choice. They multiply fast in darker, damp environments.
Some of the most common plants found in New York City apartments are herbs. They are small, easy to maintain, and delicious for the at-home chef. Also, instead of leaving your home to purchase expensive bundles of herbs, you’ll always have a supply of your own. Grocery stores charge steep prices for herbs, so just from growing your own, you’ll save some money.
When thinking of growing herbs, know that they are some of the easiest to grow but tedious to maintain. They aren’t difficult to upkeep, but they do require consistent watering and maintenance. Despite this hassle, herbs can make your place greener and more fragrant.
If herbs are your forte choice, consider growing chives, mint, and parsley. They don’t require as much sunlight as fruits and vegetables do, but they do need damp soil. If you have access to more sunshine, try basil, oregano, and rosemary. You can let their soil dry out, but once they dry, give them an ample watering.
Unlike the others mentioned, this option is the non-edible kind. Houseplants provide homes with added visual beauty and tons of health benefits. They’re known to improve productivity and concentration by up to 15 percent. This happens because when surrounded by houseplants, your stress level will decrease. Additionally, your mood should improve. Houseplants are great for the mind, primarily if you work from home!
Keeping a houseplant in a small apartment space in NYC can be a hard task. This isn’t because growing them is difficult, though. Many houseplants love to grow into large, beautiful pieces. Because of this, you should find a plant that is best suitable for the amount of space you have.
If you live in a smaller environment, houseplants like the Snake plant, cacti, succulents, and bamboo are perfect. They don’t expand to a large size, nor do they need to be watered frequently. If you have more room, try an Areca palm, Fiddle-leaf fig, and the Peace lily. These tend to grow larger but are also tolerable in medium-sized apartments.
Finding the best plant for you is dependent on the space, lighting, and time that you have. When looking into what kinds of greenery you want around your apartment, remember that not all plant types grow alike. Make sure to read all the information you can about each plant you acquire. They are living beings and deserve to be cared for in an ideal, comfortable environment.
Space-Saving Gardening Options
When you live in an NYC apartment, it’s important to conserve all the space that you have. Cluttering your home with pots and plants may end up making you feel more anxious, especially if you’re already feeling crowded. There are many space-saving options to garden with when stuck in a small space. Let’s review some.
The first option is to use hanging pots. These can be suspended from your ceiling or a high beam bar. Planting using hanging pots frees up floor space puts your plants at eye level. This way, you’ll never forget to care for them and have extra space at the same time.
A second more unique option is vertical wall gardening. This is becoming increasingly popular, as it creates an aesthetic look. To make this, you can use materials like chicken wire, wood platforms connected by strings, and even resurfaced wooden pallets. The opportunities are endless, so you can use whatever materials you want. The use of vertical wall gardens in an apartment is perfect for herbs and smaller potted plants.
A less common option to save space is Kokedama, more formally known as string gardening. This involves taking the plant roots into a ball of soil. Then, moss is wrapped around the ball to retain moisture. After this is complete, the plant is then suspended from the ceiling or a higher beam with rope. Again, this works best with smaller plants and herbs for weight reasons. Walking through your apartment with Kokedama will make you feel like you’re in a delightful Japanese garden.
How to Grow an Indoor Plant Garden
While New York City is arguably one of the best places to live in the world, Big Apple dwellers do make some sacrifices to live in the city that never sleeps. For instance, you might yearn for a garden blooming with fresh veggies, spices, or colorful flowers. Read on to learn how to grow an indoor plant garden.
Aside from the distinct culinary advantages of gardens, studies have also proven the array of benefits of having plants in the home, including improved focus and better air quality.
Nevertheless, you may have abandoned the idea as untenable in your small NYC apartment. But, believe it or not, several plants can grow in tight, indoor quarters with the following techniques.
Plant Lighting and Location
If you live in the city, it’s unlikely that your apartment receives adequate hours of direct sunlight to grow veggies or herbs properly. Affordable grow lights are a godsend for apartment dwellers with green thumbs. You can find relatively unobtrusive grow lights that give ample light for about $50 in most cases. For maximum output, look for High-Intensity Discharge lights that can serve as a supplemental or sole light source for plants. HID grow lights are twice as efficient as fluorescent lights and can run on standard household current with proper fixtures.
Because you’ll have supplemental light, you don’t need to place your apartment garden near a window. When you provide your light source, you can put your garden anywhere that’s convenient. You might try a shelf, an end table, or even a closet — wherever you can find enough space. Remember that for optimal results, keep your grow light on for 18 hours or more daily. So, choose a place where this won’t disturb anyone’s sleep.
Begin With Seeds or Plants
If you want to grow plants that do well in apartment gardens, herbs are a smart choice and can add fresh, easy twists to any meal. Starting with seeds is relatively easy with culinary herbs, and you can buy starter packs with most of the staple herbs. When you master herbs, you can branch out to lettuce and tomatoes. When starting with seeds, a seed-starter kit can make the process infinitely more accessible. If you find starting with seeds too challenging, you can also always buy vegetable and plant starts at nurseries and green markets.
Think Outside the Planter
Getting creative with the containers you use for your indoor garden will help you save space and recycle discarded materials. For instance, you can plant an entire herb garden using old eggshells and an egg carton. Wash out the eggshells and fill them with soil and seeds in the container. Likewise, you can resurrect your Easter decorations by using the smaller half of plastic Easter eggs as small planters.
Creativity is key to small-space gardening. If you can improvise with the materials and conditions you have in your apartment, you can start a garden that’ll enhance both the beauty and utility of your home. Your indoor garden can do anything from spicing up a weeknight meal to purifying your air.
Wrapping Up – Alternatives
Because not all New York City apartments are entirely suitable for heavy gardening, there may be alternatives for you. Many areas in the city have community gardens in place. These allow members to grow their fruits and vegetables. If you don’t want to give up the space you have, or if you don’t have the appropriate housing conditions to keep plants alive, check out a list of NYC gardens here.
Starting a home garden isn’t easy, but it is both satisfying and fulfilling. Once you get the hang of it, your health and finances will thank you. The key to home and apartment gardening is confidence. Stay positive and attentive to maintain the most luscious indoor NYC apartment garden possible.