Don't have a garden? No problem! Even a window box or trough can produce a satisfying crop of home-grown produce.
You can harvest surprising yields if you choose you crops carefully and follow a few simple rules. If space is really limited then don't despair. Microgreens and Cress can even be grown on a windowsill indoors!
Choose your window box carefully. Make sure that is has decent drainage holes to prevent crops becoming waterlogged, as this will cause them to rot.
Choose the deepest trough or window box possible. The more compost it contains, the less you will need to water!
Consider where you will put it. Wall mounted window boxes will need to be firmly attached outside a sunny window. Balcony Planters have built in hooks for hanging over balcony railings, which makes installation particularly simple.
If you have a small balcony then you might prefer to opt for a specially designed Grow Planter which comes complete with a liner and a durable metal stand.
Most crops will grow perfectly well in a decent multipurpose compost such as incredicompost. Mix in a good slow release fertiliser before you start planting, as this will help to provide your crops with all of the nutrients that they need. T&M's incredicrop is a good choice! It's also worth mixing in some water retaining crystals to prevent the compost drying out too quickly between waterings.
Herbs are a great choice as they have a multitude of uses in the kitchen. Choose perennial herbs that you use regularly such as chives, parsley, and thyme. Shrubby herbs such as rosemary will get large over time so they are best avoided. If you want to grow mint, dedicate an entire box to this plant as it will grow rapidly and overwhelm other plants surprisingly quickly! Basil makes a useful choice, but as this is an annual herb, you'll need to sow fresh plants each year.
Salad leaves are easy to grow in a window box, and great for snipping a few leaves into your sandwich! Choose a 'cut and come again' variety that can be harvested a few leaves at a time, as and when needed. 'Speedy Mix'and 'Nice 'n' Spicy' are both easy to grow mixes that can be sown all year round. In the colder winter months, you can grow them on your windowsill indoors, instead of outside.
You might be surprised that you can grow carrots in a trough or window box. It's important to choose the right variety though as traditional, long, slender carrots will quickly run out of space in the confines of a container. Carrot 'Paris Market Atlas' and 'Caracas' both produce short, rounded roots that don't need particularly deep soil to mature. These can be enjoyed as a tasty snack or eaten as 'baby carrots' alongside your favourite meal.
Whether you choose to grow sweet peppers or chilli peppers, both will need a really sheltered, sunny spot to ripen. Opt for dwarf varieties which won't get too tall. Sweet Peppers 'Mohawk' and 'Boneta' which both make compact plants. If you prefer Chilli Peppers then 'Basket of Fire' makes a very compact and attractive crop, with a fiery flavour!
These quick growing roots are perfect for adding a crunch to your salads. Sow the seeds little and often to ensure an ongoing supply in just four weeks time. Regular sowings will also prevent them from all maturing at the same time. Opt for the short rounded varieties such as Radish 'Poloneza', 'Rainbow Mix' or the attractive two-tone Radish 'Diana'. Radish make a good crop for a slightly cooler spot, as hot, dry conditions can cause them to run to seed.
Modern breeding has developed some superb dwarf bush Tomatoes that make superb window box crops. Tomato 'Balconi Red', 'Red Profusion' and 'Cherry Cascade' are ideal for producing bite-sized fruits to snack on. Keep them well watered and feed them regularly to maximise crop yields throughout the summer.
These easy to grow fruits are perfect for troughs and window boxes, producing sweet juicy fruits and a pretty display of flowers too. Strawberry 'Just Add Cream' is a delight for the senses, with pale pink blooms and sweet, juicy fruits which have a wonderful sun-warmed aroma. If you like your crops to look good too, try Strawberry 'Toscana' which has been developed as an ornamental edible crop with bold, cerise pink flowers.