Gardening in an Apartment/Flat/House/Farm house etc..

If you feel you are losing out on the bliss of having a beautiful garden, to have created it, nurtured it, only because you are living in an apartment; then no need to feel disheartened about it. You can very well open your window and look at a beautiful garden outside or even have your own garden inside apartment.

Community garden:

Community garden is the garden developed in the common area in an apartment complex to which every apartment dweller has an access. You can have a kitchen garden, terrace garden or a balcony garden in your flat, but to have a beautiful garden in the common shared area is a wonderful feeling that acts as a bond among all the apartment dwellers. You can grow flowering plants, vegetables, fruits or even trees there.
Community gardens may be supported by the apartment owners association/RWA in one locality or neighbourhood. It is a way of connecting with nature for those who do not have a balcony or enough space in their flats to create a garden. The garden can be a flower garden or a food garden with fruit plants and vegetables growing in the common area.

Flower garden:

In case of flower gardens the first thing is to know how to choose seasonal flowers in various seasons. The flowers you grow in the garden have to reflect the colour of the season – summer, spring, autumn and winter.
Spring blossoms: Daffodils can be good choice for the spring seasons as the blossoming daffodils reflect the vibrant spring time.
Summer shines: Garden roses – red and yellow match the sunny countenance of the garden. Along with them, rainbow of daisies, yellow dahlias and geraniums are the perfect matches for the summer time.
Autumn mellows: Flowers bring to mind the picturesque combination of chrysanthemums, hydrangeas, sunflowers and roses.
Winter greys: The winter comes with its own dark beauty and the amaryllis fits best in the garden with the pink or red roses.

Watering a flower garden:

The most common question that arises related to flower garden is how often should you water a plant? The right way to start off is how you should water a plant. Different plants need different amounts of water. As a general rule, flowering plants need about one inch of water a week. This includes any rain you might receive.
Plants with taproots need less water than plants with shallow roots. It depends upon the kind of soil you have your garden, too.
Plants in clay soils, whether shallow rooted or having a taproot, will need to be watered less frequently than plants in other types of soil. Plants in sandy soils will need to be watered more frequently and will need more water per week than plants in clay soils.
If you are putting the plants in containers, then you need to know that plants in containers need more frequent watering than ground plants. In case of plants in containers, allow the top 1 inch of soil to dry before watering, which means that you will need to water every other day or every second day.

Food garden:

Imagine yourself growing your own food in the area available in your apartment complex! It is not a wishful thinking but something that can be turned into reality with the help and cooperation of members living in the apartment.
Your food garden may have both fruits and vegetables growing in it.

Vegetable garden:

You may go for a vegetable garden also. It is always a nice feeling that you have produced something at your own area. The vegetables will sprout, grow and ripened up. That too on the space shared by all of you!
Before deciding which vegetable to grow in your garden, you must remember that every region has its own specific climate and that the vegetables thrive in different seasons. Keeping these in mind, you have to choose the vegetables accordingly.
In the Indian climate, tomato, lettuce, broccoli, peas, peppers, spinach, chillies can be ideal for a community garden in an apartment. However, you have to keep in mind that adequate sunlight and watering is a must for the vegetables to grow.
You have the option of planting your vegetables in beds, pots or directly into the ground. You have to keep in mind that the soil must be well-balanced with a mixture of top soil and organic material such as compost, aged manure, etc.
You have to prepare your soil at least 3 weeks before planting time to give the garden area time to mellow.

Choose your veggies:

Choose vegetables that are easy to grow and does not take up too many space. Let us take an overview of the vegetables grown in the garden that are proper for an apartment complex and the specific care they need.
Carrots are excellent as they can be grown small garden spaces. Salad carrots should be ready for picking within 10 weeks of planting and are good garden investment. However, they do not thrive in hot weather and must be cultivated during the cool season.
Herbs, such as parsley and chives, make excellent growing options alongside vegetables, especially lettuce. Lettuce is always preferred as they do not take up lot of spaces. Peppers take up very little space and they can look decorative when planted in small containers.
Tomatoes require sun shine and can be planted with plants, rather than seeds, to shorten production time. To grow tomatoes, planting should be in late spring time and you have to make sure that the soil is rich with organic matter.
Beets, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, onions, peas and radishes are some of the other vegetables that are ideal in a small place.
Here are some guide lines to follow if you are going for a vegetables garden :
(i) Plan the design: The design has to be given top priority as it decides the ways in which the sun rays enter the garden and watering is carried out.
(ii) Do not clutter it with many plants: Too many plants will hamper the growth of vegetables. The bigger plants may shade the smaller plants, thus blocking the sun light.
(iii) Maximize the space: As apartments usually do not have a huge common area, you have to maximize the area available. One way to do it would be to grow vegetables vertically so that number of vegetables can be grown in a limited space.

Fruit Garden:

Fruit gardening is a novel idea for apartment gardens in India. Orchard fruits are the ideal plantation options for an apartment garden.
Apples, pears, plums, and peaches are the usual choices as they do not require annual planting. The trees that bear these fruits require pruning and maintenance and usually take 2-3 years before producing their first, modest crop.
However, you have to keep your limitations in mind. In a country like India, where climate varies to a large extent from Southern parts to the Northern states, from the dry mid-western parts to the perennially wet North-east, it is not possible to have a coconut tree or an apple tree in every region.
Few fruits that can be easily grown in apartment gardens depending on the respective climate are – Blueberry, coconut, corn, watermelon, grapefruit, pineapple, guava, plum, mango, lemon, etc.

Things to make sure before you start gardening:

Before you start gardening, make sure to go through the lease agreement and there is no limitations to use the area you are intending to use for gardening. If you share the space with your neighbours, consult them before planting anything as they may have a different vision for the garden.
If you are starting a community garden, then you have to share costs and labor with the other members. If you plan to sell the vegetables or fruits, then the profit has to be borne with other members.
While every apartment community wishes to have a beautiful garden filled with flowers, it takes a lot utmost care and knowledge to create and maintain one. As most of the apartment dwellers are working professionals, they may not get the required time to plan and train themselves to create a garden. In that case, they can go with the option of vendors/housekeeping staff. The vendors are resourceful and expected to get the required seeds for the garden, maintain the garden, water the plants, make it sure that each flower/plant gets the required sunshine, etc.

Things to keep in mind while growing:

Tilling: Break the ground before starting any cultivation. Since it is a small plot of land, you may have to use pick, shovel and hoe to till the ground. This must be accomplished collectively. You should clear away any large stones, roots and limbs, heavy accumulation of vegetation, and other debris before tilling.
Place the seeds: First step is to plant the seeds. You need to mark out the area where you want to plant. You can create rows with the help of a hoe or plow. You can also create a slightly raised bed in the loose soil in a narrow line, cutting across the plot. Then you’ll need to place the seeds at the required depth in a groove.
Watch out for insects: Insects find young plants more appetizing. So, in order to protect them, you may make use of surrounding bug repellent plants as a natural way. However, you may have to resort to insecticides to keep your flower and vegetable plants safe from the insecticides.

Organic Gardening:

Organic gardening is nothing but growing fruits, vegetables and herbs in a natural manner, without the use of man-made chemicals and fertilisers. It is being widely favoured by more and more number of people now a days.
Ways to go for organic planning:
1. Improve the quality of your soil to ensure healthy growth of plants. You can dig leaf mould and garden compost into the soil or spread them across the surface, so that rain, sunlight, insects and worms will help them get mixed with the soil. It will allow dry soil in your garden to soak moisture and nutrients.
2. Make your own compost. Every bio-degradable household waste – prunings, peelings, tea bags, old flower heads, bits of newspaper, etc can be turned into nutrient-rich compost. You need to fill a compost bin with a good mixture of these compostable material.
3. Choose the right type of plants to grow in the garden. Survival of the fittest applies here and strong plants are less likely to succumb to diseases or pests. So, grow a plant that suits soil of your garden. You can also choose naturally disease resistant plant varieties that resists common insects.
4. Control weeds naturally. You can prevent weeds naturally by employing some common methods – such as spreading compost or leaf mould across soil. As and when weeds appear, pull them up and pluck out the roots so that they cannot reproduce.
5. Control insects naturally. If you have pest problems you should use biological controls. There are many natural solutions available like tiny parasitic wasps that can be used to control white fly in greenhouses and a microscopic worm that kills vine grubs.
6. Don’t reach for a chemical spray when your plants come under attack. Instead make your garden a haven for animals, birds and insects and they’ll control the harmful elements.
7. Make your garden a home for animals who can prevent unwanted species to thrive in your garden. For example, hedgehogs and toads prey on slugs and snails, while lacewings and ladybirds devour greenfly.
8. You can try out companion planting to save the plants from insects. Vegetables can be saved from pests if there is a scented plant nearby. For instance, French marigolds planted near tomatoes can drive away the white fly.

Landscaping the garden:

In colloquial conversations landscaping equates gardening. Landscaping is to transform the visible features of an area of land including the living elements such as flora and fauna. Although landscaping is the art and craft of growing plants in order to create a beautiful environment, other elements like structures, buildings, fences or other material objects created or installed by humans is also termed as landscaping.
With a little collective effort and vision, an apartment complex can have their own garden which they can boast of. The garden can be of various types depending upon the exterior of the apartment and the space and outdoor design.
Path Lining: For apartment complexes that have paths between buildings, landscaping pebbles or gravel can be good option. To give it a polished, refined look, you may line the pathways with heavy embedded stones. The key thing is to put in kind of pebbles that would not be slippery when it rains as it would make it riskier especially for the kids. The pathways can be lined in gravel, matching the colour of the exterior of the apartment.
Tired flower planters: If your apartment complex has large, open public areas, then tiered flower planters are the best ways to add visual impression. For it, you have to choose a wide base of bricks or stones that match the paving of the patio areas and install a planter with several levels. Thick walls and wide, flat tops can be placed to allow extra seating around the base. While planting flowers, they should be in the levels of the planter so they grow in lush groups.
Trees: Trees add a homely feeling to the complex and render a neighbourhood touch. Prefer tall and sturdy trees are over delicate ones to keep the branches out of the resident’s way and prune them so that the lowest branches are at least five- six feet above the ground. To keep the base neat, you can try out tiered flower planters.

Decorating your garden:

You can give the garden a sophisticated look by so many ways. Apart from implanting decorative plants and trees, a garden can have innumerable decoration pieces ranging from bird feeders to fountains, gazebos, hanging baskets, etc.
Here are some of the ways to decorate the garden space –
Topiary: Most gardens follow the topiary style in order to decorate the space. The plants clipped to give many shapes and forms in the desired shape.Various trees, shrubs and other types of foliage are designed in a topiary way. The shapes can be of anything you fathom – bears, peacocks, clouds, humans and others can be made in your garden.
Bird baths: A garden can be rendered a look closer to nature. Chirping of birds amidst the shrubs, plants and trees in the garden is not unachievable. And one can easily find ways of attracting birds into the garden.
One of the best ways is to install a bird bath in your garden. Bird baths are made up of aluminium. They are available in various sizes and shapes with beautiful designs. Installing a bird bath welcomes colourful birds to quench their thirst, play and splash the water.
Bird feeder: If your garden is large enough, you can install a bird feeder. Millets, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, niger seeds, etc can be kept in the feeder so that the birds can come into the garden searching for food. Along with feeder, you can also set up a customized bird nest and the garden can be a home to birds.
Pools and fountains: To build pool and fountain is one of the common decorative practices. A garden with a fountain or a spring can be one of the most decorative pieces. Different kinds of floating plants, flowers, fishes and colourful pebbles can be kept in the pool to give it a decorative look.
Furniture and sculptures: You can build garden furniture using wood, plastic, aluminum, wrought iron and wick. The material used should ensure that the furniture are weather durable and water resistant.
Sculptures can be of anything – gods, human figures, animals, objects and others. The materials like marble, wood, bronze, limestone, granite and terracotta are used for these sculptures.

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