See Your Garden Grow

Author: Alecia Pirulis  

tomatoes

You may think that you can’t garden because you live in an apartment. You’d be wrong! My mom, who lives in Atlanta, has the most amazing orchid display – over 18 orchids, all dripping with beautiful blooms in pinks, whites, and purples – and she lives in a small apartment.

The trick is finding the right spot. Orchids are great for apartment dwellers because they don’t like direct sunlight – a bright spot near a window is great. Fill a dish with small rocks or marbles and set your orchid pot in the dish. Put a little water in the dish (not too much – the pot itself should remain dry) to create humidity. Spray your orchids often – keep a spray bottle handy and mist them a couple of times a day. Don’t overwater your orchid – they should be fairly dry before you water them again. I give my orchids a “drink” about once or twice a week – mix a spoonful of plant food in a gallon of water and keep it handy.

Bromeliads are great for indoor growing. Don’t let them get direct sun – they prefer indirect light – preferably in a humid spot. Add one to your bathroom or kitchen, put a little water in the center “cup” and enjoy the vivid bloom! The most common mistake people make with bromeliads is over-watering. The water will stay in the “cup” for a while. Don’t add more until it is completely gone. If your bromeliad is happy, it will produce a “pup” which you can dig up and repot. Although the bromeliad only blooms once, the flower lasts a very long time.

Tomatoes work great in pots – be sure to water them regularly and fertilize. If you keep them on a balcony or patio, keep an eye out for pests. (There’s a very brave squirrel who finds his way onto my patio to steal tomatoes right off the vine. I’m considering a large ceramic owl!) Tomatoes need a lot of direct sunlight, so make sure they get at least six hours of sun. If you are growing them indoors, move the pot from one window to another if necessary to follow the sun (or invest in a heat lamp). If you are new to growing tomatoes, give cherry tomatoes a try – they produce lots of bite-sized tomatoes and are fairly easy to grow, making them a sure success.

Veggie lovers, grow a salad! Spinach will grow well in a pot, and herbs (such as basil, oregano, mint, and parsley) also grow well indoors. Plant some and keep them in your kitchen window. Then pluck some spinach leaves, toss them with some parsley and oregano, add some of your cherry tomatoes and a little olive oil and vinegar … yum! You can even grow some impatiens, carnations, or marigolds and toss these edible flowers in for color and flavor.

If you plan to eat what you’ve grown, be careful what you use on your plants – stay away from pesticides and other chemicals. Growing your plants indoors is fairly easy with a little planning, so go ahead – indulge your green thumb and have fun in your apartment’s new little green space.