6 simple, tasty greens to grow in an apartment balcony garden

Gardening is a great frugal hobby that many people enjoy. It can provide a peaceful, meditative experience while yielding wonderful fruits, vegetables and herbs for use in the kitchen. Better yet, the cost is incredibly low, especially once you’ve started out.

However, traditional gardening does require a piece of land for planting, something that is often unavailable to apartment dwellers. How can apartment residents take advantage of the joys and benefits of gardening without having access to a plot of land?

It’s simple: All you need is a small apartment balcony garden. Simply put a large container on your balcony, fill it with soil, put a few drainage holes on the bottom, along with something under it to catch excess water and begin planting. There are many excellent guides out there for starting your own apartment balcony garden, including this particularly good apartment gardening guide from GardeningKnowHow.com.

One way to make an apartment balcony garden more than pay for itself is to plant things that you’ll immediately eat in the kitchen, thus saving you money on fresh produce. It’s almost impossible to match the freshness of stepping out on your balcony, picking or trimming some fresh produce and taking it directly inside to prepare it right away. It’s a freshness and quality level that stores simply cannot match, and you’ll save money over the cost of those items in the store to boot.

[See: 20 Tips for Saving Money at the Grocery Store.]

Here are six plants that are easy to grow and thrive very well in a simple balcony garden.

Organic lettuce is displayed for sale at a farmers market in Falls Church, Va., Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Leafy greens of all varieties — lettuce, kale, spinach and so on — are easy to grow in a balcony pot. They’ll fill up the surface of your garden, allowing you to trim them easily, rinse them and immediately use them in dishes and salads. You can’t get a fresher salad than one made of leafy greens that were cut from the plant 10 minutes earlier. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
<strong>Tomatoes</strong> grow well in a deep balcony garden pot, as the roots go fairly deep from a tomato plant. A single tomato plant, well cared for, can provide many pounds of tomatoes over the course of a growing season, providing the backdrop for sauces, salads and <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2017-02-28/once-a-month-cooking-whip-up-batch-recipes-to-save-money-and-time">many other dishes</a>. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/NZSteve)
Tomatoes grow well in a deep balcony garden pot, as the roots go fairly deep from a tomato plant. A single tomato plant, well cared for, can provide many pounds of tomatoes over the course of a growing season, providing the backdrop for sauces, salads and many other dishes. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/NZSteve) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/NZSteve)
Cucumbers and other fresh produce are displayed for sale at a farmers market in Arlington, Va., Saturday, April 13, 2013.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Cucumbers work great on balconies with railings that can serve as simple trellises for the vines. Cucumbers can be sliced and eaten directly or used as the basis for an incredibly healthy and tasty cucumber salad. They can also be soaked in vinegar to make “refrigerator pickles,” or even fermented in a small crock to make full dill pickles quite easily. It’s easy to can pickles and store them for future use. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) [See: 12 Ways to Be a More Mindful Spender.] (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Large zucchini wait to be picked at he u-pick field at the Curbside Market in Homestead, Fla. Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. The farm has been in operation for over 42 years. The growing season last from Dec. to May, for squash, tomatoes and strawberries. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Zucchini and summer squash are absolutely wonderful when dredged through olive oil and a few seasonings and cooked on a grill in the late summer. Like tomatoes, these grow best if you have just one or two plants in a deep pot, but these plants will each produce many pounds of delicious vegetables for your consumption. If you get a little creative, you can shred zucchini to make fried latkes, toss it in with your favorite salad or use it as a key ingredient in delicious breads. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) (AP/J Pat Carter)
Freshly picked farm grown bell peppers are ready to be chosen by customers at Brenda's Produce stand in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, July 14, 2015. A recent survey indicates Mississippi adults are last in eating vegetables but they are not alone. Most U.S. adults still aren't eating nearly enough fruits and vegetables with only 13 percent saying they eat the required amount of fruit each day and only 9 percent eating enough vegetables. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Peppers are very easy to grow, even in small pots on your balcony. You can easily grow peppers of all kinds, from very mild sweet peppers and bell peppers to the hottest habanero and ghost peppers and everything in between. Peppers have infinite uses in a variety of dishes — saute them with onions, dump them in a soup, add them to pizza toppings and salads or pickle them. Single plants often produce an abundance of peppers throughout a growing season. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) [See: 10 Money Leaks to Shut Down Now.] (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)
FILE – In this March 20, 2009, file photo mounds of fresh broccoli are on display in the produce section of an Arlington, Va., grocery. A team of researchers and agricultural agents want to take a bite out of the West Coast's $1 billion broccoli monopoly by creating an East Coast network of farmers to feed a growing U.S. appetite for the stalky vegetable. The initiative is driven by rising fuel costs to ship crates of broccoli in refrigerated trucks from California fields to East Coast grocery coolers, the "grow local" movement and concerns about creating a sustainable, diversified food network. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Broccoli plants also require some significant room to grow, but much like some of the other options listed here, they can produce a lot of food from just one plant. Just cut off the florets as needed and roast or steam them to your heart’s content with the seasonings you most enjoy. You can also mix cooked broccoli with rice, cheese and cubed chicken for an amazing, hearty casserole. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Organic lettuce is displayed for sale at a farmers market in Falls Church, Va., Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
<strong>Tomatoes</strong> grow well in a deep balcony garden pot, as the roots go fairly deep from a tomato plant. A single tomato plant, well cared for, can provide many pounds of tomatoes over the course of a growing season, providing the backdrop for sauces, salads and <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2017-02-28/once-a-month-cooking-whip-up-batch-recipes-to-save-money-and-time">many other dishes</a>. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/NZSteve)
Cucumbers and other fresh produce are displayed for sale at a farmers market in Arlington, Va., Saturday, April 13, 2013.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Large zucchini wait to be picked at he u-pick field at the Curbside Market in Homestead, Fla. Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. The farm has been in operation for over 42 years. The growing season last from Dec. to May, for squash, tomatoes and strawberries. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Freshly picked farm grown bell peppers are ready to be chosen by customers at Brenda's Produce stand in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, July 14, 2015. A recent survey indicates Mississippi adults are last in eating vegetables but they are not alone. Most U.S. adults still aren't eating nearly enough fruits and vegetables with only 13 percent saying they eat the required amount of fruit each day and only 9 percent eating enough vegetables. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
FILE – In this March 20, 2009, file photo mounds of fresh broccoli are on display in the produce section of an Arlington, Va., grocery. A team of researchers and agricultural agents want to take a bite out of the West Coast's $1 billion broccoli monopoly by creating an East Coast network of farmers to feed a growing U.S. appetite for the stalky vegetable. The initiative is driven by rising fuel costs to ship crates of broccoli in refrigerated trucks from California fields to East Coast grocery coolers, the "grow local" movement and concerns about creating a sustainable, diversified food network. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Once you have the initial items on your balcony — a planter and soil — you can plant things again and again and again in the same pot to enjoy their bounty. All you need is a simple packet of seeds and some consistent meditative time and mild effort over a few months, and you’ll find yourself with lots of incredibly fresh and flavorful vegetables for your dinner table.

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6 Simple, Tasty Greens to Grow in an Apartment Balcony Garden originally appeared on usnews.com

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