Growing Vegetables in the City

Being an urban dweller sometimes means sacrificing the plants and open spaces of a more rural community. Of course, living in an apartment also means avoiding the pain and annoyance of working in the yard. It is possible to satisfy your need for greenery and growing your own vegetables, all from the convenience of your apartment window.

Many species of plants and vegetables grow quickly and easily from above ground pots located on widow sills. The key is to know where to start.

First, make sure you are using 4" plants. If you visit your local nursery, you can find plenty of different options in this size category. The most popular choices are cucumbers, peppers, beans, lettuce, eggplant, squash, radishes, parsley and tomatoes.

Second, choose the right size pot for your 4" plants. Some plant species, like green onions, parsley and herbs can survive in smaller pots of 6 to 10 inches. Vegetable species thrive in 5 gallon containers. Radishes and beets can be grown in flat cake pans.

Third, prepare the pot. Place rocks at the bottom of your pot, over the drainage holes, to ensure that water drains out slowly and the soil is able to properly absorb water. Put a combination of compost, slow-release fertilizer and soil in the pot. Arrange the plants in your pots and pack the soil tightly around them. Water the plants well and place them on your window sill.

Fourth, water your plants everyday. Avoid getting the plant leaves wet, this may invite disease. Mix a nutrient solution into your water 6 days a week. Provide plenty of light for your plants. The vegetables are going to require far more light than any of the other plants. Lettuce, onions, parsley and radishes can tolerate more shade.

The table below breaks down some of the essential factors in choosing plants, pots and areas for your project. You can also check THIS site and THIS site for more information.

CropNumber of days for germinationGeneral size of containerAmount of light requiredNumber of days from seeding to harvest
Lettuce, leaf6-8MediumPartial shade45-60
Onions6-8SmallPartial shade80-100
Parsley10-12SmallPartial shade70-90
Radish4-6SmallPartial shade20-60


  1. Vegetable gardening in urban places is really quite tough. You won't have the sufficient area for your vegetables. However, as mentioned in the post, solutions like putting the plants in a pot that is apt to the kind of vegetable can be useful. It's like you are growing vegetables inside your house. Just make sure that the plants do get enough sunlight (if needed) and water. Great post! Good tips!

  2. I live in an appartment and I'll tell you what I do. I use the vegetable containers. Its kinda like a pick cup with a seed and soil. I put it under my kitchen light and after 2 weeks it starts sprouting.

  3. my local garden shop told me I can't grow tomatoes indoors b/c there's no way to pollinate them. how do you get around this?

  4. I pollinate my tropical plants in the winter (I live in Minnesota) using a small brush. Brush all the flowers once the pollen forms. Tomatoes can self pollinate if you have a small fan. I used to grow them indoors. Now I can so many that I don't need to. I live in a small city and am getting rid of the grass.