How To Grow Your Own Food When You Live In A Small Space

Growing your own food can seem like a far off dream if you live in an apartment or have a small living space but there are an abundance of things you can grow from the comfort of your own home, shortening the food supply chain , saving you money and a few of those trips to the shop!

If you are a beginner to gardening, make things easier for yourself by starting with one or two plants and getting it right before you expand your indoor garden. When picking the right herbs and vegetables, think about what you eat and use in the kitchen most.

Firstly, figure out what your plants will need in your space. There are many variables such as what season to plant your veggies, where to put them in the apartment, how much water you should give them, and what containers to use. Not everything will be able to grow in your house but with a bit of trial and error you should be able to grow something, even if you don't have much natural light.

Getting ready to plant

Here are a few things to consider when getting read to grow food in your apartment:

  • Sunlight: The more sunlight the better. If you are fortunate enough to have a sunny area in your apartment or a windowsill which has sun for most of the day this is the spot you should be trying to grow most of your plants. There are fluorescent lights and other lighting options for indoor gardening but if you're putting your garden together on the cheap, give your available, natural light a go first.
  • Containers: Using plastic pots means the soil won't dry out as quickly as clay pots. They weigh less which means they can be easier to manage too.
  • Soil: Well-draining potting mix is necessary when gardening in containers. Potting mix is lighter and fluffier than garden soil, efficiently circulating air and water to keep roots healthy. You can find potting mix at your local nursery, DIY or hardware store.
  • Water: Watering depends on each plant. Making a label for each pot or a chart with each plant and their watering preference is a good way to keep track and means other people in the house can water your plants too. It is common for plants to thrive with moist but not soggy soil. The best way to check is sticking your finger in the soil and watering it if it is no longer moist. Water the soil and mist the leaves throughout the day if they are near a near window to keep humidity up. Most plants require regular feeding, which is easiest done with a water soluble fertilizer every now and again.

Choosing Plants

Leafy Lettuce, microgreens and spinach

Leafy greens are quick growing vegetables and have shallow roots so they are ideal for growing indoors. Give them plenty of water. Spinach is one of the few vegetables that doesn't mind shade and will grow well indoors in a shallow, wide container with good drainage holes all year round.


Mint, Basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and chives are all able to grow in an apartment. You can start with seeds, which are cheaper or small starter plants from a nursery. Give each herb their own pot to avoid fast growing herbs over-powering the others. They won't grow as big as herbs in an outdoor garden but having enough for garnish is useful. Mint is the easiest and a good place to start.Shallots, leeks and chives are also easy to grow, you can cut the bottom stalk off ones brought from the shop or market and sit them in a glass of water. Change the water every couple of days and they will regrow.


Sprouts are something easy you can grow without a well lit apartment. A big plus of growing your own is that you avoid the plastic container they usually sold in! All you need is a jar, breathable cloth, seeds, a rubber band, and a dish. Soak seeds in the jar for at least eight hours.Then cover the jar with cloth and secure it with a rubber band. Drain the water and then refill and drain again to rinse seeds. Place the jar, away from direct sunlight, on an angle inside a dish. Refill the jar with water to rinse the seeds and drain daily. Place the jar back inside the dish on an angle. You should have sprouts within five to seven days.


The perfect vegetable for a dark apartment is mushrooms. Cremini, enoki, maitake, portobello, oyster, shiitake, and white button mushrooms can all be grown indoors, but the different types have specific growing needs. When you're growing mushrooms in an apartment, a spot under the sink or in a cupboard could work. They will tolerate a small amount of light but it is best to leave them undisturbed in a dark spot, ideally at around 13-16 degrees celsius(55-60 Fahrenheit).The easiest way to grow mushrooms is buying a mushroom growing kit. They are relatively inexpensive and will give you everything you need to start the process.


Tomatoes are a summer crop which need lots of sunlight so if you've got a balcony or a super sunny window and you're feeling lucky then try your hand at growing tomatoes. There are a few types which will grow better indoors, think smaller varieties like cherry tomatoes or red robin. These need quite a large pot or can be grown in a hanging basket, suitable for an apartment. Check out this guide to growing hanging tomatoes.

If you're in a colder area, tomatoes are best planted from late spring onwards, and stop fruiting around autumn. If you have them in a really warm house or sunroom with lots of direct light they can be more of a year-round fruit. Tomatoes need a bit more attention but a fresh tomato picked straight from the plant is worth the effort! To get a decent amount of tomatoes all through winter and spring, start a new pot every couple of weeks.

These are just some of the things you can grow in an apartment. Take a look at this comprehensive list of other plants which will be happy indoors!

Creating good plant habits (watering, feeding, etc.) for your indoor garden is a lot easier when you see the plants in your living space every day. Once you've established what each plant needs then all that's left to do is keep them alive, enough for you to harvest the delicious home grown produce. It's a labour of love and takes time so if you don't get it the first time don't be too hard on yourself. Once your garden is producing, try sharing the love by trading veggies with a friend or neighbour. Everyone should be able to experience the joy of eating something that we've grown ourselves!

Written by Briana Kennedy

Briana has a passion for the environment and intersectionality. When she's not hosting her community radio show, DJing or producing podcasts, she can be found outside, never far from the ocean. Her ideal day is one where she can fit in a bush walk AND go for a surf.

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Photos by Bella Contador-Kelsall

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