A vegetable patch may seem impossible for many urban dwellers that are tight on space. For garden enthusiasts willing to think outside the box, there are many opportunities available that don’t require a back forty, but merely a few feet of space here or there. Follow these DIY gardening ideas to put your green thumb to work — even in a small apartment.

Start a container garden

These mini gardens are a great way to utilize decks, rooftops, patios, or even the space beyond your windows. If you rent, they are also mobile and easy to move to your next place. Get creative and explore repurposing materials, such as a broken wheelbarrow or bucket. If your containers are located in places that are largely shaded, cultivate shade-loving plants, or move the containers to catch mid-day rays.

Join a community garden project

Does your neighborhood have plots available for a collective garden? Many cities now have such arrangements, with parcels of publicly-owned land. It’s a great opportunity to grow fresh fruits or veggies and create relationships with neighbors.

Grow a windowsill herb garden

Many herbs will grow indoors, especially if you have a sunny window that faces east, south, or west. If your space is too shaded for herbs to grow, install an energy efficient light to promote growth.

Window garden
Window garden. Image courtesy of Rebecca Sims.

Sprout your own beans and seeds

This is a great tip to try in the dead of winter when all your food is being trucked in from far off lands. Imagine munching on fresh mung, alfalfa, and even lentil, pea, and garbanzo sprouts. These nutrient-packed foods are easy to germinate and use very little space. This video gives you all the information you need to get started.

Two lettuce plants
Image courtesy of Andrew Perkins.

Start a hydroponics garden

This growing system uses a liquid solution instead of soil to grown plants, either indoors or outdoors. Plants can grow quicker in this medium, resulting in higher yields. A simple homemade system can be assembled using an air pump and a storage tote, with plastic cups inserted into holes in the lid of the tote. Pre-made kits are also available, sometimes including a grow light.

Feature image courtesy of Mosman Council

By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.