Growing a Garden in your Apartment

 

Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy growing a beautiful garden.

Benefits of Growing a garden

Save Money- the cost of food is continuously increasing; save some money by growing and eating your own vegetables and herbs.

Healthier Lifestyle- The saying you are what you eat comes to mind here. You will be consuming your own fresh and organic vegetables. Unlike most store-bought vegetables that have pesticides and chemicals.

Help Neighbours- there will be times your garden blooms a bunch of vegetables at the same time and will be able to give some to your neighbours, friends, and family.

Adds Beautiful Décor- plants and herbs add wonderful greenery and a homey feeling to your space.

Family Time- you can get your children involved. They can help plant, water, and watch the plants grow!

How to get started

You will need to grab some supplies if you don’t have them already like planters/containers, soil, and a watering can are a must. If you plan on hanging some around the apartment, you will need some rope and hooks.

 

Where to plant?

Balcony  
Balconies and patios are awesome spaces to start your garden, and they serve as beautiful décor!

Fire escape
Containers and pots can go right on the landing and stairs. Be sure to secure the containers to avoid them from falling or having someone accidentally knock them over. Also, make sure to leave room for walking in case there is a need to escape from a fire!

Walls/railings
hang pots, containers, or bottles filled with soil and sprouts on handrails and other nearby railings. Or use structures like a wall-mounted shoe rack or get creative and build your own.  

Vertical garden
Vertical gardens are a trendy new design in home gardening. These are typically created from old pallets and up cycled/repurposed materials. You can make your own or buy vertical gardening kits.

Windowsill
You can find or build windowsill boxes or containers to utilize all the space below your window.

Front, back, or side of the building
You will need to speak to your landlord about this one, but you could ask to start a garden in the front, back, or side yards of the building.

Keep in mind the temperature, humidity, and light access for your plants.

 

What to plant?

Here are some beginner plant ideas:

Herbs

Tropical plants

Cacti

Succulents

Avocado

Tomatoes

Bell peppers

Radishes

Cucumber

Zucchini

Green beans

Radishes

Kale

Scallions

Carrots

 

Tips

Create watering schedule
Most houseplants prefer to be watered once a week. Succulents, snake plants, and cacti can be watered once a week. Set a reminder on your phone or calendar, so you don’t forget. If the leaves are yellow, you may be overwatering. If the soil is dry and leaves are drying out it’s a sign of underwatering.

Check soil

Growing plants in containers require better soil drainage than regular in-ground gardening. So, you should use dirt from your backyard. As your plants use the nutrients from the potting soil, you will need to increase nutrients by adding compost or organic fertilizer to the soil.

Start small
If you are new to indoor plants, stick to one or two plants at a time. It will take you some time to learn what watering and light conditions work for your plants.

Plants die. It’s okay
Some plants can live long indoors, remember that an apartment isn’t a natural habitat so don’t fret if your plant dies. Learn and keep going!

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ENERGY-SAVING TIPS AT HOME

Here are some great tips on how to be more energy efficient. Use these to save you some money and put away that extra cash for a rainy day.

  1. Change your light bulbs to LEDs.
  2. Wash your clothes in cold water if possible.
  3. Air seal your home. Sealing cracks, gaps and leaks and adding insulation can save up to 10% on home heating and cooling costs.
  4. Clean or replace all filters in your home regularly. Dirty filters make your system work harder and run longer than necessary.
  5. Use your microwave instead of your stove when cooking.
  6. Defrost your refrigerator and freezer before ice buildup becomes 1/4 inch thick to ensure your appliances are running efficiently.
  7. During warmer months, close blinds, shades, and drapes on the sunny side of your home to help keep your home's temperature cooler and reduce the work for your AC. Open shades during cooler months to let the sun warm your home.
  8. Don't peek in the oven while baking! Every time you peek, the temperature drops making your oven use more energy to bring the temperature back up.
  9. Use natural light when possible.
  10. Control your fixtures with a photocell or a timer to assure dusk-to-dawn-only operation of your outdoor lights.
  11. Don't leave your electronics on all day long. Only turn on your computer, monitor, printer, and fax machine when you need them.
  12. Set your thermostat to 25C in the summer and 20C in the winter - every degree of extra heating or cooling will increase energy usage 6% to 8%. Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature than normal will not cool your home faster.
  13. Using your ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 2 degreeswith no reduction in comfort.
  14. Refrigerators and freezers actually operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible (using water bottles if nothing else). Be careful about overfilling them as this will reduce airflow and cause the appliance to work harder.
  15. Using dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers at night will keep the house cooler, reduce strain on the power grid during the peak usage hours of 4 PM and 6 PM and reduce the chance of an emergency!
  16. Turn off heated dry on your dishwasher and air dry instead.
  17. Set your refrigerator temperature to the manufacturer's recommendation to avoid excessive cooling and wasting energy.
  18. Don't leave bathroom or kitchen ventilation fans running longer than necessary. They replace inside air with outside.
  19. Replace your windows. If your home has single-pane windows, consider replacing them with more energy-efficient windows or adding solar shades or tinting film.
  20. Install a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperature according to your schedule.
  21. Turn off the lights when they're not in use. Lighting accounts for about 12% of a typical residential utility bill.
  22. Don't leave your mobile phone plugged in overnight. It only takes a couple of hours to charge.
  23. Turn off the oven a few minutes before cooking time runs out. Your food will continue to cook without using the extra electricity.
  24. Watch your appliance placement. Avoid placing appliances that give off heat, such as lamps or TVs, near a thermostat.
  25. Dress for the weather. When you're at home, dress in warm clothing in the winter and cooler clothing in the summer to stay comfortable without making your heater and AC work harder.
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Buy or Sell First?

If you are considering looking for a new house, and are a current home-owner, then chances are you’re wondering what your strategy should be:  do you wait to find the perfect new home before you put your current home on the market, or do you sell first and then look around?  You have a few options.  Use the following as a guide to explore what might be the best move for you.

Sell First:

There are several benefits to selling your current house before searching for your next home.  First of all, once you have sold your house, you will know precisely how much money you have to work with.  With a concrete price range, you’ll be able to narrow the pool of houses before you begin looking, and negotiate accordingly.  This will allow you to immediately make firm offers on houses that you are serious about purchasing.  You can be first in line with an unconditional offer you know you can afford, and this will grant even further negotiating leverage as Sellers tend to take unconditional offers more seriously.  When they counter or turn down an offer that’s conditional on the sale of a home, they usually think the Buyer will come back with a better and more firm offer once they have sold their current home.  However, if you make an unconditional offer, the Seller will usually give you more consideration, as they realize you’re probably looking at other properties and will move on if your offer is rejected.  Likewise, if you have already sold you house, you probably do have a wider opportunity to look around, negotiate, and find the best deal and fit for you and your family. 

The flip side of this scenario, however, is that if you don’t find the right property before the closing date of the house you’ve already sold, you may have to look for temporary housing until you do find what you’re looking for.

So, before you opt to sell first, you should determine whether you have alternate, temporary options, in case you have to move from your house before you’ve found a new one. How would you and your family deal with living in a transition home for an undetermined period of time?

Buy First:

Buying a new house without having sold your current home may occur if you are interested in a specific property and will only sell your current home if this property comes on the market.  It may be a matter of timing—grabbing hold of the home before it’s too late.  The same might be said of a property you haven’t had you eye on previously, but that catches your attention due to its uniqueness or unbelievable price.  If buying first means you don’t miss out on the real estate opportunity of a lifetime, it may be the best move.

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