Spring is in full bloom, and we bet that your green fingers are itching for something to do. This is easily done if you have a house with a garden, but what about those living in apartments? Luckily, there’s plenty to keep you occupied indoors as well. Here are 6 gardening activities you can easily pick up if you’re living in an apartment.
Start a Windowsill Herb Garden
Growing herbs on your windowsill is a very simple and efficient way to ensure that you constantly have a fresh supply. It takes very little space, doesn’t require a lot of care and attention, and you can use the herbs all year round.
The easiest herbs to grow are parsley, basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, and rocket. Once the plants are established, you can pick the leaves and use them in cooking whenever you need to. Just remember to leave some on the plant, so that it continues to grow.
Grow Veg on Your Balcony
Whether you have an open or closed balcony, you can turn this corner of your apartment into a garden that can be both decorative and functional. The balcony is the best place to grow fruit and vegetables that rely on pollination: tomatoes, strawberries, peas, runner beans, and if the space allows it, even courgettes and citrus trees. It’s also a great place to grow large herbs, such as dill or bay leaf shrubs, or plants that need spacious containers, such as carrots and potatoes.
Bring Out the Big Pots
With winter over, plants are now entering their growing season, so they’re going to need a bigger home. Most plants need to be repotted once every two years, and spring is the best time to do this. You can usually tell if plants need to be repotted if you notice their leaves turning yellow, or just not producing any new foliage.
Also, if you’ve had a houseplant for several years, chances are it will need a new pot as well. All you need is some soil and a pot that is 2-3 inches wider, to accommodate the new growth.
Propagate Like a Pro
You don’t need to leave the house to get new plants. In fact, the easiest way to increase the lush greenery in your home is to propagate what you already have. Pothos, African violets, philodendron — these are just some of the plants you can propagate in water. Simply locate the growth node (the place on the stem where the leaves come out of), cut ½ inch below it, and place the cutting in water. It usually takes 1 month before the roots develop and you can plant them in soil.
Some plants, such as Aloe Vera and spider plants, actually grow ‘pups’ — smaller plants that can easily be separated from the ‘mother’ and placed in a new container. Others, such as begonias, ferns and prayer plants, can be propagated by separating the roots or tubers of the main plant and planting them in new pots. And just like that, your garden can multiply overnight!
Don’t Get Bugged Out
Plants aren’t the only ones waking up with the start of spring. With the level of humidity dropping in spring and summer, the main pests to watch out for are spider mites. Open windows will also lead to thrips finding their way in, accompanied by their partners in crime, the fungus gnats. But with a bit of planning, you and your plants won’t have to get reacquainted with bugs and pests any time soon.
Spring is the best time to protect your plants from future invaders, and neem oil is your trusted ally. Simply make a solution of 1 tsp neem oil, ½ tsp insecticidal soap (or mild dish soap) and 1 liter of water. Spray this on your plants and soil every week (make a fresh solution each time) and you’ll be all set.
Have you come across a bag of sprouting potatoes while spring cleaning your pantry? Don’t throw them out just yet. Simply stick them half-way down in a bag of soil, put them on the balcony, and you’ll be able to enjoy a harvest of new potatoes by the end of summer. The same applies to onions and garlic that have started sprouting — all they need is a pot of soil to start growing.
Upcycling and recycling are also great ways to make the most of what’s left of your vegetables when cooking. Take the end bits of your leeks and spring onions and place them in soil. They will start growing new leaves, providing you with fresh, homegrown produce. You can also plant pepper and tomato seeds, which you can use to grow your own on the windowsill and balcony.