A couple of months ago, I moved into a different bedroom (same apartment) with a balcony. It’s a very decent-sized balcony and has a fun view of Manhattan, a cemetery, and an insane boulevard. What a privilege to have an outdoors space in the city! I’ve been patiently waiting out the cold New York winter to take advantage of it. While we were blessed with a mild winter, hanging outdoors is still no fun when it’s under 50 degrees. My balcony got no love the past three months. The only thing chilling out there was my roomie’s groceries cart.
But as Spring has started to arrive, I’ve been busy prepping for my plan to make the most of my balcony. I ordered chairs, moved the shopping cart to its new home under the couch, and began doing research on balcony gardening. I’ve never grown anything. I don’t even have an understanding of.basic plant care that may seem like common sense to most. I bought two indoor plants and killed them both within a week. (Overwatering…what is that?!) Needless to say, I’m intimidated, and need all the guidance I can get.
Amy Pennington started a biweekly series on how to start growing your own food, City Dirt, on a blog I read religiously: Food52’s The A + M Blog. I noticed she just published a book in early March called Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home (my Amazon affiliate program link). I ordered a copy of the paperback version, thinking there would be a lot of photos. Turns out the book and is black and white with cute illustrations. So if you have Kindle, go for the Kindle version.
I like that the book is short and sweet, and doesn’t overwhelm a beginner like myself. Amy suggests a few vegetables, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers that are easy to grow, and includes directions and recipes for growing and eating them. (Yes, I’m comfortable with pretending I’m on a first name basis with authors.) As she lives in the Pacific Northwest, which has an even shorter growing season than we have here in NYC, I thought it would be safe to follow her suggestions on what to grow. I ordered seeds for strawberries, zucchini, and arugula. She didn’t recommend tomatoes, but as a) it’s warmer in NYC and I have a sunny balcony, b) I got a Topsy Turvy planter from my wonderful boyfriend for Christmas, and c) I effing LOVE tomatoes, I’m going to take a stab at it.
Amy writes about what you need to begin your apartment garden, seed starting, how to take care of your plants, and DIY garden ideas for you crafty people out there. It’s a fun read and a good beginner’s guide. I recommend this book for new gardeners like myself. Experienced growers may not get as much out of it, unless you wish to learn more about organic/natural options, or want some recipes and DIY ideas. My only disappointment was that, given this was my first gardening book, I didn’t feel like it broke it down for me quite as simply as I hoped for. I really should have started with a Gardening for Dummies type of book. If you’re completely new to growing like I am, pick up a copy of Amy’s book, but be sure to continue to seek out other books and resources!