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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 19 September, 2018
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No garden, no problem: What can you grow in your apartment?

Just because you haven’t got a garden (or allotment) doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own vegetables.

You don't need one of these.
You don't need one of these.
Image: Johannes Kornelius via Shutterstock

AS THE MOVE toward growing your own vegetables continues to gather pace, those who find themselves living in apartments don’t have to feel left out.

With last year’s census reporting that 177,587 apartments are occupied in Ireland, that makes for a lot of balconies.

With many used as little more than a storage area for varnish-starved patio furniture and rusting BBQs, they could instead be used to help reduce the weekly food bill.

While the number of allotments available to rent throughout the country continue to increase, using a balcony has two major advantages – location and cost.

Stephen Alexander – a horticulturist with Teagasc who has written the free “A Guide to Vegetable Growing” – believes these everyday areas are easy to transform.

“It doesn’t have to be a balcony,” he says, “you can even make use of a window ledge.”

“The simple thing to start off with are herbs, such as parsley, as it will regrow,” Alexander suggests.

“That’s a very easy way to get started. You can buy them already potted for a couple of euro, but be careful. There will only be enough nutrition to keep it alive [initially] for a couple of weeks.”

Making use of your balcony floor will require what Alexander refers to as “the original for outdoor growing” – a grow bag.

(A grow bag in action – jeremytarling via Flickr/Creative Commons)

“Deeper grow bags will also let you grow carrots and potatoes,” he says.

“The beauty is that they keep on popping up. Lettuce is another one. That will keep on growing too.”

Other vegetables can prove to be more difficult. “Root crops [where the roots are the edible part] such as carrots, parsnips or turnips can be harder to grow,” he says.

You’ll also have to be more picky as you have less space.

If you can’t grow down, you can always trying growing up, by planting hanging vegetables such as bush tomatoes.

All of this comes with a big be a good neighbour caveat, however. It’s always worth checking what you are and aren’t allowed to do with your balcony before embarking.

Read: Iggy What? Lizard found in Kildare garden >

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About the author:

Paul Hyland

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