I live in a one-bedroom apartment in Manchester city centre with no balcony. My windows open about two inches and look out over three other apartment blocks (see above). But I will be DAMNED if I let that stop me from gardening.
I get so much joy from every aspect of gardening. Filling the pots, sowing the seeds and digging down into cool, damp earth is incredibly therapeutic and mindful, and that’s before you’ve even experienced the joy of seeing that first seed sprout or watching a bud peel open into a beautiful flower months after all your hard work was done. It’s easy, it’s accessible and it’s a gift that just keeps on giving; fresh greenery gives life and freshness to any space, even in the middle of an urban jungle.
My windowsills are full of herbs, and whilst the green is great, winter is coming and some colour could really add some light and lift my mood in the shorter days. With the season in mind, a few weeks ago I went to the garden centre and bought some Pansy and Viola seeds, as they’re can be sown in autumn and flower all year round. I also bought some chive seeds (which should be planted a lot earlier in the year) as a little experiment into how the plant would grow at this time of year if cultivated indoors. It’s also produces beautiful purple flowers and tastes great in a potato salad, so I was very hopeful 😉
I sowed all three seed varieties into fresh compost in medium, round containers (I would have loved to have scattered them over a vast flowerbed, but you’ve got to work with what you’ve got) and covered them thinly with soil as per the instructions on the packet.
Please excuse the few sprigs of a failed rosemary experiment in the final pot (RIP). I hoped the chives wouldn’t mind being born in its grave.
I also planted some seeds from a very intriguing-looking, curly-leaved basil plant that my mum got in Italy – she told me she’d had such success with it that she wouldn’t be needing the rest of her packet so I decided to give it a go in a smaller pot. As with the chives, September is not the time to be planting this (rules? What rules?), but Basil is generally so hardy that I couldn’t resist giving it a chance in an indoor environment. The fact that my other two basils have been plucked bald from too much pesto-making might also have been an influencing factor on my decision.
So I left them nice and moist and waited for what felt like ages (I’m a very impatient person – I’m working on it) but it was actually only a week before I saw some activity.
One Week Later
THE CHIVES ARE COMING.
‘Plant in Spring’ – WELL IT’S SEPTEMBER SO WHO’S THE GARDENING EXPERT NOW?!
The excitement I feel as I’m typing this is unbelievable (and quite sad, actually). It’s probably only going to be a couple more weeks until I can cook with these. I doubt they’ll actually get a chance to flower before I scoff them all. All the other seeds are laying dormant whilst the chives soldier on, too busy to look around and see what everyone else is doing. You go, chives.
I’m sure this is terribly boring for anyone who has not been obsessively staring into pots of soil each morning checking for action, but I’m sure (hopeful) that the other little seeds will catch up really quickly and I promise to update on their progress as soon as it actually happens.
Maybe if I sing to them they’ll hurry up? Pray for my neighbours…
Two Weeks Later
I am so excited, I can’t even tell you. All of my little seeds are making incredible progress – now I know how it feels to be a mother. Right???
Check out the chives!!! Only two weeks after they were planted and they’re absolutely thriving. The seed heads are still attached to the top and they’re really skinny, so I assume they’re not yet edible.
The violas are very shyly poking through. Take your time, gurl.
The pansies are coming up really nicely, too. Please excuse the dirty windowsill – we’ve used all our dessert plates for the other plants and I PROMISE I’m going to IKEA tomorrow to buy some dishes so poor pansy doesn’t have to wee all over the house anymore.
On the left is the curly-leaf basil, which seems to be coming along nicely. I’ve been resisting the temptation to rip a leaf off and taste it. On the right is the basil I’ve been fighting with for six months; he refuses to grow any further than this. Probably paying me back for plucking him to death for my pasta sauces. Meanie.
I also bought a mint plant, finally! I tore the soil in three and planted it in separate areas in the pot. It smells amazing when the window is open 🙂
So two weeks and my indoor garden is really coming along nicely. It’s bringing me so much joy and I love seeing how the plants change from day to day. I don’t anticipate striking changes over the next few days, so I’ll update you in two weeks when it will have been a whole month since sowing!