The Q&A Archives: Apartment Planting

Question: I live in a city apartment and am really missing having a garden. Are there any kinds of vegetables could I start and grow in small planters or pots indoors? I would especially like to grow a tomato or pepper.

Answer: It is difficult to get tomatoes to blossom and bear fruit indoors. This is due to lighting not being quite what it should be and, more importantly, there aren't any pollinators in your house (hopefully). As far as the lighting goes you could get artificial lighting--but you would need something like sodium or halide lights to provide the kind of intense light you need to get any reasonable productivity, and they are very expensive. You can use regular fluorescent lights, but you'll get much less fruit.<br><br>If you have somewhere outside that would accomodate a hanging pot, you could try the cherry tomato offered by Burpee called 'Tumbler'. It is a great little producer that is made for folks like yourself. You can try to grow habaneros inside, but they require very intense, summer-like light conditions in order to bloom and set fruit just like the tomato. A south-facing window that gets about 8 hours of direct sun is necessary for success, and that's hard to get sometimes. (This is when you start dreaming about greenhouses). Shepherd's Garden Seeds (ph# 860-482-3638) offers a compact chile pepper for use as a container plant. It's called Super Chile, is ornamental and edible (it's rated between a jalapeno and tabasco pepper on the heat scale). This one may be better to experiment with if you want to try growing peppers indoors. Could you by any chance join a community garden in your area? Most cities have one or more, and it's a great way to get to know your fellow gardeners. Contact your state department of agriculture or cooperative extension office, or try The American Community Gardening Association, 100 North 20th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103; ph# 215-988-8785. They just might be able to tell you the nearest one!

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