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I love gardening. There is something so incredibly rewarding about watching plants grow and enjoying fresh produce, and everybody knows freshly picked, homegrown fruits and vegetables taste so much better than anything from the store. As you probably already know, commercial produce for grocery stores is bred for durability and ability to withstand shipping, not for taste. Plus, homegrown produce is actually more nutritious than what you can buy in the store.
The problem is, how do you garden in an apartment? I don’t mean the kind of apartment that magically has loads of patio, porch, balcony, and fire escape space like you see in all the apartment gardening magazine spreads. I’ve lived in several apartments and the best I’ve ever had was a walkway I could sort of put a few things on if they really liked growing in low-light conditions. We’ve been trying to grow basil and mint in our current walkway space, but it doesn’t really get enough light and I am amazed all three plants (there are two mints) are still hanging in there after several months. They’re nice, but don’t really count as a garden.
This week we decided to get serious about trying to grow vegetables in our apartment. We live in Hawaii, so the weather is warm year-round growth, and we have a big window in our living room that gets decent light. When I was browsing for apartment gardening solutions, I came across the Petomato. It was designed by a Japanese man and, apparently, has gained some popularity in Japan as a way for people in cities to grow some fresh produce. I figured that if it’s small enough for someone in a Japanese apartment to use, we should have plenty of space for one! The Petomato allows you to grow hydroponic produce in a disposable water bottle. Pretty cool sounding, right? You have to keep the plant pruned and pollinate the flowers yourself, but growing cherry tomatoes in the living room without special equipment sounded appealing, so I decided to buy one on Amazon. We went with the classic tomato Petomato (it’s also available in habanero pepper and basil).
Our Petomato arrived yesterday, so I decided to do an ‘unboxing’ and introduction to the product. We also have some other new apartment gardening products on the way, so I’ll be writing about them, too, and charting our plant’s (hopeful) progress. After all, fresh ingredients are key to creating delicious food! This is not a sponsored or paid review – just my impressions of using a new gardening item for the first time.
Front the front, Petomato’s packaging looks like one of those standard plastic jobs you have to break a pair of scissors getting into, but it’s actually very easy to open.
When you flip the package over, you discover the back is actually the folded over instruction sheet and quite easy to pop off and read. Last year, I might have found the cartoony instructions odd, but after living in Hawaii for a while the Japanese-influenced designs seem pretty normal. Actually, the instructions are a lot more…serious looking than designs I see every time I venture into Waikiki!
Out of the box, so to speak, the Petomato has a growing sleeve with some sort of interior sponge material and a threaded cap, a small packet of seeds, some sand, fertilizer, and a tiny spoon. The spoon is for measuring fertilizer.
I was a little worried the threaded cap wouldn’t fit on my water bottles, but it fit perfectly on the first one I tried.
The water soaked into the sponge almost immediately, so I figured it was safe to move on to step two: “planting” the seeds. The instructions said to sprinkle 3-5 seeds on the sponge. This was actually only about half the provided quantity.
Next I added some sand. Once again, I only used about half the package.
And as easy as that, it’s time to move on to playing the waiting game! There are additional instructions for after germination, so hopefully I’ll be able to post more on the Petomato soon. At this point, I’m liking the product. It was easy to set up, contained more than adequate quantities of everything, and didn’t require a lot of fussing to fit onto a bottle.
Update: The Petomato works! Check it out here.
If you’re looking for small space gardening solutions, you may also like this post on how to grow microgreens!
Have you ever used the Petomato? What solutions have you found to gardening in small spaces?
Natasha Núñez is a former classroom teacher with a Masters of the Arts in Teaching. She also is a registered yoga teacher & holds a certificate in natural skincare formulation from the School of Natural Skincare. She shares her passion for education, positive parenting, free printables, and recipes for DIY bath & home products. Learn more about Natasha and where she’s been featured.