Emma Cullen sets out to prove that size doesn’t matter when it comes to growing your own produce…

Don’t assume that just because you have no garden, you can’t grow your own food. There are many things you can cultivate in the confines of a flat (yes, even the smallest) and, best of all, you can do it for next to nothing. For those of us who have absolutely no outside space (myself included) it’s all about the windowsill – think of your windowsill as the gateway to free food.

Herbs are a good place to start if you have limited space. They can easily be grown on a windowsill from seed and do not take up very much room – I’ve taken to growing some basil, chives and parsley on mine. It’s really satisfying to flavour your dishes and salads with something you’ve grown yourself – not to mention the fact that they look so pretty sat on the sill.

Basil really appreciates warm and sunny spots and will soon flourish on a sunny ledge. Just make sure your windowsill wonders don’t dry out by keeping a little jug of water handy to make sure they get enough moisture.

Herbs are usually the first port of call when growing you own produce, but there are many other options to try and lots of them can actually be grown from scraps in your kitchen. Have you ever found a garlic clove at the bottom of your veg bowl, alone and neglected, and perhaps sprouting a little shoot? Well, you can use that neglected bulb to your advantage.

Pop it in a little pot in some soil, with the shoot pointing upwards, and sit it on the window ledge. From there it will get nice and warm and have plenty of sunlight, and your old garlic clove will suddenly grow into a lovely new plant. Once it has flowered, you’ll know that the plant has ploughed its resources into creating a new plump bulb of garlic – and it’s up to you when you want to dig it up and use it to make something delicious.

Leeks, spring onions and scallions
These are real money-savers and there’s no need for soil. Just pop the white end of your vegetable of choice into a clear glass and douse in a bit of water. You’ll soon notice it leafing and starting to grow, so all you need do is snip off the part you want to use for cooking and leave the white root in the water. It will continue to re-grow after you’ve cut it. If you’ve got a sun-trap windowsill, you’ll never have to buy these kitchen staples again.

Ginger is a yet another plant that will grow from a kitchen scrap. Find a knobbly bit of ginger, just like you’d use to cook with, and, like the garlic, leave it and tiny buds will appear. Place the knobbly bit of root in a pot of soil with the bud facing upwards. The window is the best place for this little chap, as ginger flourishes in filtered sunlight and will thank you for warm, moist soil. Once the plant has grown, you can pull up the whole thing – it’ll have new roots which you can use to cook with – and then start the whole process again. Even if you don’t use it to cook with, a ginger plant is very attractive and makes a lovely house plant to brighten a small flat.

Pretty it up
The best thing about growing your own produce inside the house (apart from eating it) is that your plants will form part of the decor. Why not use teacups to grow your kitchen scraps? Once the shoots start to appear they’ll look as pretty as a picture. You can even use an old book as a makeshift pot by hollowing out a hardback book, lining it with parchment or plastic and filling it with soil – just make sure you add some pebbles to the bottom for weight. These look just adorable on a window ledge and ensure you’ll be well stocked up on fresh herbs – what’s not to love?

Be sure to keep an eye out for the next grow-your-own instalment, which covers how to turn your patio into a kitchen garden (without having to tear up the paving slaps).

Emma Cullen

Emma is an ex-Fed Up & Drunker that has been released into the wild

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