Whether you live in an apartment or have limited outside space, there are still many ways to bring in some greenery in a garden, grow your own produce and enjoy the beauty of plants.
Windowsill herb garden
Herbs are ideal for growing in pots or a small planter on your windowsill. Those such as basil, coriander, chives and parsley can be grown from seed or bought as plants to pot up. Harvest them again and again to encourage a continuous supply of delicious leaves – perfect for adding to many dishes and bringing some greenery to your kitchen.
Woody herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme have the added benefit of being drought resistant. They rarely need watering and will cope well with hot, dry weather, making them easy to care for. These are best purchased as small plants but can also be grown from cuttings. If you have the space for a hanging basket or balcony planter, a trailing rosemary variety will spill beautifully over the edges and is a great choice.
Fresh tea window box
Homegrown herbal tea has much more flavour than dried tea bags from the shop. Not only do the plants look beautiful, but it’s also so satisfying to pick fresh leaves when you fancy a brew. Simply place a few leaves in a strainer, or a handful in a teapot, and pour over boiled water.
Try growing lavender, mint, chamomile or lemon balm, which will all happily grow in a pot on your windowsill or a window box. These will need a small prune once a year but any flowers or leaves you remove can be dried and stored in an airtight container for a constant supply of homegrown herbal tea.
Wish you could grow your own veg? Why not grow microgreens? Much like you might have grown cress as a child, microgreens can be grown quickly and easily in a small pot on your windowsill. Microgreens are the young leaves of your chosen veggies, harvested when small and full of flavour. Enjoy them raw in salads or scattered over dishes. Compared to the mature produce, microgreens have been found to have a higher concentration of nutrients.
There’s no need to buy special seeds to grow microgreens for your garden – normal seeds will do just as well. Try growing micro beetroot, mustard, broccoli, kale, radish, coriander, spinach or rocket. Fill a small pot with moist peat-free compost and top with a fine layer of seeds. Cover with a thin layer of compost and place on a sunny windowsill. The microgreens will be ready to harvest within a couple of weeks.
A small windowsill planter or upcycled old produce tray is ideal for growing your own mixed salad leaves in your windowsill garden. The varieties known as ‘cut and come again’ will keep producing leaves, as long as you keep enjoying them. Try a mixed salad leaves seed packet, or make your own with a combination of seeds, such as lettuce, spinach, rocket, chard, radicchio and chicory.
Simply fill your container with moist peat-free compost, scatter the seeds over in a fine layer and cover with a small amount of the compost. Place on a windowsill and, after a couple of weeks, enjoy the leaves for months to come.
Homegrown chillies and peppers
Chillies and peppers will happily grow in small pots. The plants, flowers and fruit are attractive, so are perfect for enjoying in your kitchen or on a balcony. For a year-round supply, freeze your harvested chillies in a tub and simply grate or slice them from frozen as and when desired to add to your favourite dishes.
The chilli seeds can also be added to dishes for some extra heat, or dried to use as seasoning, like you would shop-bought chilli flakes. The seeds from both your pepper and chilli plants can even be used to grow more chillis and peppers in your windowsill garden. Just sprinkle them over moist peat-free compost in a seed tray and cover with a thin layer of compost. Place on a windowsill and pot on once the seedlings are large enough to handle.
You might think limited space means you can’t grow a carbon sequestering tree. However, olive, lemon and lime trees will all happily grow in a pot on your balcony. Lemon and lime trees are smaller and can also thrive in a pot as an attractive, evergreen houseplant when given a sunny spot. Most will produce fruit once a year, as well as beautiful flowers.
Vertical growing allows you to make full use of even the tiniest of spaces by growing flowers and vegetables vertically, rather than just in a pot on one level. If you have a balcony wall, why not try training a squash, sweet pea, pea, runner bean or cucumber plant to grow up it? Squash and pumpkins, in particular, usually spread across lots of space – so why not make that space vertical?
You could even use an old pallet or ladder, or specially designed wall planter, to fill with levels of potted vegetables or herbs. Instead of plant pots, upcycle old milk containers with some drainage holes added. If you want to start smaller, try a hanging basket by your window or a balcony planter and fill it with attractive edibles such as nasturtiums, strawberries or trailing rosemary.