5 Tips for Container Gardening on Your Apartment Deck or Roof

From New York City to downtown Chicago, small indoor spaces are a part of life. Apartment living is often the norm for city-dwellers. But even if you live on the second or fifteenth floor, you don't have to leave the family farm behind for the excitement of city life.
a balcony with flowers

a balcony with flowers

If your apartment has a small deck or rooftop, then you have enough space to plant a garden that will supply you with fresh, healthy produce year round - and with plenty left over to share with the neighbor across the hall. Read on for some solid tips that will get your container garden growing in no time. Is It Safe? Speak to your landlord to gain access to the roof - if you don't have access already - and let him know what you intend to do. Rooftops are communal spaces so it's better to get the go ahead before you start planning and planting. The landlord may request that you have a professional assess the rooftop to make sure it is safe to support the additional weight of a rooftop garden. Same goes for the deck. Whether you own your apartment or condo or you rent, it's better to be safe than sorry when adding weight to a deck or rooftop Use common sense and try to seek the advice of a professional. Designing Your Garden Use lightweight containers. They'll add less weight, are easier to maintain, and are generally more flexible and less expensive. Also, they can be easily transported from one area of the roof to another or taken inside from the deck on very cold nights. You can purchase these lightweight containers at your local nursery or you can find them already hanging around the kitchen; tupperware containers and thoroughly washed containers that once held your butter or sour cream will also do the trick. Just be sure to poke holes in the bottom for adequate drainage. What To Plant Choose vegetables that can be easily transplanted and favor the same conditions. You can either purchase transplants at your local nursery or start your own from seeds indoors. Cucumbers and tomatoes thrive in containers. For cucumbers, transplant one plant per each one gallon container. Tomatoes, however, require more room. For each tomato plant, use a five gallon pot with drainage holes and a stick to help hold the plant up. Use Compost To Feed Your Plants Adding compost to your potting mix (about 25%) will give your plants added nutrients and help retain moisture during the warmer months. Making your own compost is ideal, but not always conducive to city living, but can also be bought at your local nursery. Sun and Water Make sure your plants get plenty of sunlight and just enough water to keep them healthy. Ideally, your plants will need about six hours of sunlight a day. On average, water your plants once to twice a day, depending on their need. To check and see if a plant needs watering, feel the soil about two inches down. It the soil is moist, there is no need to water. Dry soil, however, requires watering. Over watering can cause pest problems, such as gnats, while under watering will cause your plants to wilt and die. Having access to healthy, organic vegetables can truly be a reality with container gardening. Even in the smallest of spaces, with the right amount of sun and water, your plants will thrive amid the concrete jungle.

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