Book Review: Apartment Gardening by Amy Pennington

Our annual veggie collection has arrived, and every year we receive more questions on porch and patio gardening: “I’d like to eat healthier by growing more fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs on my apartment balcony or windowsill, where do I start?” With so many varieties of plants and so little space, getting a successful start to container gardening can be daunting, but local landscaping and edible gardens consultant Amy Pennington has written Apartment Gardening to get you growing.  She’ll be visiting Swansons on April 18th for our Celebrate Spring! 2015 Design Weekend from 11AM to 4PM to share her tips and tricks, and help you plan a successful vegetable garden for your space.

Pennington is a small spaces landscaper, guerrilla gardener, and urban forager.  A do-it-yourself enthusiast and an advocate for learning through experience, her book will get your plants off to a healthy start, and she shares recipes to add some fresh zest to your dining table.  She reminds more timid readers that plants want to grow into strong, productive creatures, but that they need a helper to achieve that goal.  Find out why bamboo is the duct-tape of gardens and how to turn those ugly plastic pots into desirable planters for your veggies with her book.

mixed veggies in a container

Pennington focuses on vegetables that produce well in containers, and emphasizes companion planting whenever possible.  She skips over the science-y stuff, but gives readers the basics of plant nutrition, sunlight requirements, and establishing a diligent watering plan.  The top producers for container gardens she notes are Arugula, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Snap Peas, Strawberries, Zucchini, and most of the culinary herbs.  For new growers with very limited time and space, she recommends microgreens and growing sprouts in the kitchen.  Sprouts require a fraction of the space and just a minute or two per day to rinse and toss on top of your sandwich or salads, she says.

strawberries and rhubarb in a container

Once your windowsill herb garden is established, Pennington offers recipes to include your freshest harvests in every course of your dinner.  Her recipes are simple, packed with flavor, and showcase the ingredients she recommends growing in your small space.  Not only does she have recipes for fritters, ice cream, and pork chops, Pennington inspires do-it-yourself essential oils, lip balms and seasoning salts that make excellent gifts and home remedies.

This book is perfect for those apartment dwellers with a good south-facing balcony or windowsill, desiring a new green-thumb hobby for fresh mealtime options.  It’s a fun read on a wide topic with ample how-to advice and real-world solutions to common gardening questions.  Join her at Swansons on April 18th to find new inspirations from this small spaces expert and buy a copy of the book - she might even sign it for you!

lettuce and salad greens at Swansons Nursery