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Growing your own food can be a fun, rewarding experience, though you may think it’s impossible if you don’t have a yard.
In reality, there are numerous ways to grow food if you live in an urban environment, apartment, or home without a yard.
When I first started growing food, I lived in an apartment with a tiny deck and was able to grow a ton of tomatoes and a variety of herbs. Even though I now have a yard, I still use some of my old techniques to grow edible plants in containers and indoors.
Whether you try your hand at growing herbs on your windowsill or salad greens that don’t need soil, the opportunities are vast.
Here are 6 great ways to grow your own food without a yard or land.
Think vegetables can only grow in the ground? Think again!
Some veggies grow very well in pots. If you don’t have a yard but have a deck, patio, or porch, container gardening is a great choice.
Start by doing some research on types of vegetables to grow in containers. My favorite options include herbs, sugar snap peas, lettuce and other greens, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Certain root veggies, such as beets, potatoes, and radishes, may also work.
Next, get some pots — clay or plastic — with one or more holes on the bottom for drainage. Herbs can grow in small pots, but most other veggies need large deep ones. Use a plant saucer under the pots to catch the drainage.
Grow bags from companies like Smart Pot are another option. They’re super convenient and lighter than clay or ceramic pots.
Fill the pots or bags with a potting mix that gives veggies the nutrients they need, such as potting soil with organic matter.
Then, plant the veggie seeds according to the package instructions or the pre-grown seedlings that you got at a nursery or grocery store. If you’re planting veggies that need support, such as peas or tomatoes, use a trellis, tomato cage, or stakes.
Place the pots in a sunny area and don’t forget to water them. Depending on the weather in your area, you may need to water potted vegetables every other day or even daily. When the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil is dry, it’s time to water.
Multiple kinds of vegetables grow well in pots or bags on patios, decks, or porches. Be sure to research the types of veggies that you can plant in containers, use appropriate soil, and provide plenty of water.
If you live in an apartment or urban home with an accessible rooftop, you have a great area to grow food.
In fact, rooftops are often ideal for veggies that need a lot of sun, as they’re usually not shaded by trees or other buildings.
You can grow veggies on a rooftop in pots, containers, or bags just like you would on a patio or deck. For a more efficient use of space, consider building or purchasing elevated or tiered planters. Elevated planters often include a large rectangular container for the plants.
Before you get started, check with your housing association to make sure rooftop planters are allowed. You may also need to consult an engineer to make sure your rooftop will support a garden.
Keep in mind that you should mostly plant veggies that tolerate a lot of sun, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, thyme, and rosemary.
If you don’t have much space on your rooftop, don’t plant veggies that need a lot of growing area like squash or corn.
Since rooftop gardens tend to get plenty of sun, it’s important to water your plants regularly. At the same time, planters on the roof easily absorb rainwater. Keep an eye on the rainfall and temperatures in your area when determining when to water your veggies.
Growing veggies on a rooftop is a great option, especially for varieties that tolerate plenty of sun.
You may think that window boxes are just for flowers, but they’re also useful for food.
I’ve had great luck growing greens, such as arugula and chard, in boxes nestled below windows that receive good afternoon sun.
Depending on the location of your window boxes, you may get varying levels of sun. Unlike container gardens on a porch or rooftop, you can’t move window boxes. Thus, it’s important to research plants that do well in the sun levels you have.
When choosing seeds or seedlings, look for those that thrive in your region and climate zone. Ordering seeds online is an option, but purchasing them from a local nursery or seed company may be better.
Local gardening stores usually sell plants that do well in your region. Plus, you can ask for help if you need it.
Use window boxes of any material — hayrack, wood, fiberstone, plastic — so long as they’re 8 inches (20 cm) deep or more and have good drainage. Add potting soil with organic matter and vegetable fertilizer, if desired, before planting seeds and seedlings.
Keep the soil moist. You may need to water window box veggies more often than other plants since they can dry out quickly.
To grow food without yard space, replace window box flowers with vegetables.
Intriguingly, you can grow some veggies without any soil at all.
Hydroponic gardening is the practice of growing food in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution. You can do it indoors or outdoors, making it a great option if you don’t have a yard.
Depending on what you’re growing, a hydroponic system may only need a small amount of space. Plus, it can usually be done year-round.
In hydroponic systems, plants essentially “float” in the nutrition solution. They may grow in some type of material other than soil that supports their roots, or their roots may be placed directly into the solution.
Hydroponic gardens typically need a grow light and may also include an air pump for the solution.
Some of the most common plants that you can grow hydroponically include greens, herbs, strawberries, and dwarf varieties of tomatoes and peppers.
There are numerous tutorials online for making homemade hydroponic systems. Hydroponic kits are also a good option for beginners.
Hydroponic garden kits offer a way to grow veggies in a nutrient solution instead of soil. They’re a great option for growing food in small spaces and can be set up entirely indoors if needed.
A sunny windowsill is another indoor option for growing food. It’s also aromatic, helping your place smell fresh and pleasant.
Herbs are one of the best things to grow on a windowsill since they’re low maintenance. It’s possible to grow some veggies on windowsills, but be sure to research tips specific to certain vegetables if you plan to try.
Choose a windowsill with plenty of sun, such as by a south-facing window, that won’t be exposed to heat or air from a vent.
Select pots with drainage holes and use saucers to catch any excess water and avoid leaks. Fill your pots with potting soil suitable for herbs, plant your seeds or seedlings, and watch them grow.
Remember to water your windowsill herb garden regularly. Mist your plants with a spray bottle from time to time if your home is dry.
You may need a grow light in winter due to a lack of sunlight.
Herbs can thrive in pots placed along a sunny windowsill. Just remember to keep their soil moist and spray them with water if your home is dry.
If you want to grow food outdoors but don’t have a yard, a community garden is a great option.
Community gardens are usually divided into several plots for use by individuals or groups. They may be run by nonprofits or local governments.
There’s typically a membership fee to reserve a plot — and there may even be a waitlist depending on the garden’s popularity. Some gardens may ask that you pitch in for general maintenance and garden work as part of the membership.
To find a community garden in your area, start by doing an online search. Social media and websites like the American Community Gardening Association, Meetup, and Local Harvest may be helpful. Many schools and churches also have community gardens.
Join a community garden to grow your own food alongside neighbors and friends. Check websites, social media, and local schools or churches to find one.
While you may often associate gardening with large yards, it’s entirely possible to garden in small spaces — and without any land.
Hydroponic kits, pots on a windowsill, window boxes, and container gardens on patios or rooftops are just some of the options for growing your own food with limited space. You can also join a community garden.
Choose one of the options in this post to get started.