Adventures in Apartment Gardening

When we moved in to our apartment back in April, both Jason and I agreed that our little balcony would provide the perfect opportunity to try our hand at growing some veggies. Someday we hope to own a house with a real garden, but for now we are working with just a 5’ x 3’ rectangle. Regardless, with high hopes we set off for Lowe’s and purchased two packets of seeds (one tomato and one pepper), two pots, and a bag of gardening soil (not potting soil! as the helpful Lowe’s employee warned us). Back home, two seeds and a little water went into each pot and then we settled in for a long wait.

Good looking plant... for now
Good looking plant… for now

The progress was thrilling at first. After a few weeks, we had green shoots that quickly turned into real live plants! How easy, we thought! After a month or two, we even had those little flowers that somehow turn into actual produce. However, we began to notice that our tomato plants were turning a distressing yellow color. In August, we had one tomato that was actually growing to a normal size, but it was refusing to turn red. By this point, the other flowers (and most of the other stems) had wilted depressingly.

 

Based on some family advice, we realized our mistake. The size of the pots was far too small to support two fully grown plants. So, hoping it wasn’t too late, we acquired a few more pots and replanted one of the pepper plants and threw out the second tomato plant (it was just too far gone).

Our growing garden
Our growing garden
Ready for the harvest
Ready for the harvest

Luckily, this alteration seemed to do the trick. Our pepper plants quickly grew two beautiful purple peppers. When the first one was ready for harvest last week, I’ll gladly admit that we had a brief picking ceremony and took pictures just like proud parents…except we happily sliced into our little guy and added him to our tacos about 5 minutes later 🙂

 

 

This past weekend we finally picked our one tomato, which had thrived in its “one plant per pot” environment and turned a lovely red color. Unfortunately, we were a little too eager with this one. Apparently, tomatoes need more time to ripen even after the outside turns red. You can imagine our disappointment when we cut it open and the majority was still green. Only after some careful dissection were we able to glean two bite size pieces that were actually red and edible. Those sure were delicious, though!

Beautiful red on the outside...
Bright red on the outside…
...Not so red on the inside
…Not so much on the inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re now eagerly anticipating the moment when we can pick our second purple pepper and anxiously hoping the two new mini tomatoes will grow against the odds! Although the results haven’t been spectacular, it’s certainly made for an interesting summer. Here’s to trying again next year!

Do you have any tips for growing vegetables in pots? Does anyone know how to tell when a tomato is actually fully ripe and ready to be picked?

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