Grow your own food – on your windowsill

There is nothing more rewarding than growing something you can eat. It probably stems from the days when we kicked our nomadic ways out and settled down to farm. There is also something about the smell of soil and the sight of life developing before our eyes that stimulates our basic senses. The taste of your own tomato warmed by the sun, sprinkled with sea salt cannot be replicated by store bought varieties.

Not everybody is lucky enough to have space to plant anything more than good ideas. With the trend towards organic living, people want to find ways to grow something they can eat… anything. The myth that you can only grow something if you have “green fingers” should be treated with the contempt it deserves. If you follow a few simple steps then you will soon feel the reward of growing your own vegetables, whether you live in an apartment or something slightly bigger.

How to start?

You need sun: Vegetables aren’t happy if they don’t have a few hours of sun so find a spot where you can place your container. The general guideline is about six hours but three will do just as well.

 Container choice: Whatever is hollow can be used as a container, so you can design your garden

around your décor. Vegetables don’t like to be crowded so plan around the size of the containers.

Now for the big question: What do you want to eat?

What you plant will depend on the size and number of containers. Bulb vegetables like beetroot need space to grow so that limits you a bit. Think of tomatoes (also keeps flies away), radishes, salad selection, sweet peppers, chillies, herbs – chives, basil, cilantro, mint – micro- carrots and greens, string beans, spinach, green onions… the list goes on. The more you harvest leaf vegetables, the more they grow (cut the outer leaves and they will keep sprouting from the centre).

You can also decide if you want to grow from seed or start off with seedlings. Obviously seeds will take longer but if you want to plant with heritage (a.k.a heirloom) seeds, you will have enough seeds to give to your friends from just one harvest.

Now that you’ve decided on where you want to place your containers and what you want to plant, the next step is to prepare your pots with potting soil. Your local nursery will be able to advise you on the best one for your purposes and they will also be able to give you advice on your next steps. The seedlings available are seasonal so you don’t have to read a bunch of packets and calculate season and harvest time. Follow their advice but go armed with information so that you don’t buy too much or the wrong thing.

Scheduled planting: Non-leafy vegetables, the ones which are finished once you’ve harvested, such as tomatoes, should have a scheduled planting plan. For ongoing production, plan to plant about two weeks apart so that you don’t run out of produce.

Once your vegetables are growing (wonderful meditation to watch them grow), you can sit back and anticipate your first harvest. Throw a harvest party in the middle of the city!