Help me do some apartment gardening.
February 18, 2008 7:02 AM   Subscribe

Help me with my (potential) indoor apartment garden.

First I have some minor experience wwoofing on some organic farms. I'm currently living in Seoul and am a bit frustrated with the lack of greenery and no yard. I don't even have a balcony. I have a big window though and am interested in growing things I can eat near it.

So I'm wondering what would be good to grow inside? Herbs strike me right away as something that is small and manageable, but what else? What do I have to worry about other than sun light issues? I'll probably have a ton more questions once I'm past this visionary stage, but if you've had any experience doing this, I'd really like to hear about it.
posted by bindasj to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
If you're talking garden, as in vegetables, you'll need high intensity grow lights. If you're talking garden as in plants, philodendrons will grow just about anywhere.
posted by electroboy at 7:12 AM on February 18, 2008

I'm growing stuff in my apartment window right now. Herbs will be easy, but make sure that you grow herbs that you will actually use (we have a pot of thyme that barely gets touched). If you like perilla (in Japanese shiso, not sure what it would be in Korean) then that will grow pretty well indoors too and is quite productive.

Planting cloves of garlic (or even just keeping them in water) will net you some really nice garlic greens. Green onions can also be regrown in water. If you are going to grow things in water I'd recommend a bit of fertilizer as it will help the plants grow.

Not quite on topic, but sprouts can be easily grown. And they don't require any light at all.

As for vegetables, we have peppers and tomatoes, both of which grow really well (but we get a lot of sun, YMMV). We also did some lettuce once but we're not big lettuce eaters. If you have the space then you could probably grow something bigger.

You could grow pretty much anything inside as long as you can give the plant enough space, light and warmth. If you can figure out what kind of climate your apartment will provide and then plant based on that you'll be able to avoid getting any additional equipment.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:50 AM on February 18, 2008

There are dwarf varieties of cherry tomatoes that you can grow on a windowsill. Right now I'm growing Little Finger and Thumbelina carrots, dill, chives, and mixed baby greens (kale, radicchio and arugula) in tiny containers on our windowsill with four CFL bulbs in a lamp. Everything is green and happy. I started with a single bulb, but everything is about six weeks old now and needed the boost. Part of the experiment is that my windowsill is only 3" wide, so the containers I'm growing in are extremely small. I wanted to see how big things would get in a small container with ample light and good fertilizer.

In apartments past, I've grown several varieties of basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme - most herbs do great in containers. Cilantro is the only herb I won't grow again, simply because it seems to bolt before it's big enough to harvest from, then die off.

This weekend I sowed peppers and Tiny Tim tomatoes (the smallest cross I could find that was not a strain of "grape" or "currant" tomatoes, which are a different species). I plan on growing larger indeterminate varieties in my garden, but the Tiny Tims are very fast to maturity (45 days) and if they do well indoors I intend to always keep one or two going in the kitchen for easy snacking.

Start with a bagged seed starting mix or potting soil mix. It's winter here right now, so insects aren't much to worry about (and nearly all my plants will get hardened off and go outside at some point, if they aren't eaten first like the greens) but in the summer time gnats and such can be a hassle in the windowsill garden. Starting with bagged mix sort of helps with that at first.

I use fish fertilizer every two weeks, and I water with rain water or boiled and cooled tap water.

I start everything from seed.

What else...well, I work from home, and it's hard for me to leave the little guys alone. So I'm the biggest peril to my windowsill garden. :) You can see pics in my profile Flickr feed.
posted by annathea at 8:31 AM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Gardener's Rake blog has a decent post on indoor-veggie how-tos. The indoor gardening forum at Dave's Garden might be useful, too. (I think you have to join to ask questions but it's free and they don't spam.)

In the U.S, some of the best gardening-advice resources are the state agricultural extension services. Maybe there's something similar in Korea.
posted by dogrose at 1:41 PM on February 18, 2008

Light is your only real issue. Garden plants like tomatoes and peppers are quite flexible -- hardy and happy to sprout/grow almost anywhere -- but for them to fruit (produce tomatoes, peppers, etc.) you'll need indoor grow lights. The only alternative to grow lights would be if your window has full southern exposure and you could leave it open all day (because regular window glass is surprisingly efficient at filtering brightness and especially UV rays -- good news for humans, not so good for plants).

Yeah, herbs are a great choice for indoor gardening because they're usually expensive to buy fresh and some of them don't need as much light as fruiting plants. Of the common kitchen herbs, the one that would grow best without direct southern light is mint.
posted by lorimer at 8:53 PM on February 18, 2008

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