Posted on 01 April 2008 by

Reader Question: I love tomatoes, but I live in an apartment. Can I still grow them and if so, how?

Urban GardeningBy Michael Nolan

Everyone who loves gardening and fresh vegetables wishes they could have a perfect plot of land that got just the right amount of sun and rain, but the rest of us live in the real world.

I lived in an apartment in New York City for several years with only a small balcony and I managed to grow some pretty respectable tomatoes using container gardens.

At first I was concerned that my neighbor was going to complain about the menacing plants climbing up, over and through our shared iron rail wall, but when told her to reach through and pick what she wanted, we were never at odds over it.

In a container garden, stabilization can be difficult, especially if the container isn’t large enough. I had fantastic results using — of all things — five gallon buckets!

I did spend a few dollars building some very simple cages out of 2x4s and smaller cross supports (for which I used PVC piping, cut to size).

I built a basic frame from the 2x4s, drilled holes through the wood and slid lengths of pipe through the frame to create a very sturdy and reusable cage. The best thing about it is that it was flexible enough so that the next year I was able to use it for other climbing and vining plants as well.

Thanks for the question, and keep them coming!

3 Responses to “Reader Question: I love tomatoes, but I live in an apartment. Can I still grow them and if so, how?”

  1. our friend Ben Says:

    Great system, Michael! Wish you had a few pics of it to share. (Also wish you could have seen my apartment balcony with its bazillion containers. Definitely proved to me that plants like hostas and astilbes were a LOT tougher than people claimed!) Apartment gardening can be done!!! I knew one person who even tried worm composting in her apartment! Where there’s a will…

  2. deb Says:

    For the short time of my life when I lived in an apartment, I accidentally grew a tomato in my container composting system. I didn’t have the heart to pull it up. It produced the sweetest cherry tomatoes ever.


  3. Michael Nolan Says:

    Ben: Unfortunately my time in New York was so hectic that I never got around to taking any photos of my plants at all, but at least I can say with no reservations that it works!

    deb: I’ve heard of people with accidental tomato plants coming up in even weirder places than that – like a septic tank!

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