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By David Domoney.

There’s no need to miss out on the benefits of gardening if you don’t have a garden.

In fact, there are many ways to make your windowsills a thriving green space that’s productive and looks great. While you’re growing crops indoors, you’re also making the most of the routine and joy that the success of gardening brings.

Harvest of herbs

You can grow herbs indoors quite easily on a bright windowsill. Basil, chives, mint, coriander, rosemary, parsley, and thyme are popular picks for indoor growing. Once you’ve sown your seeds, cover the pot and put it on a bright, warm windowsill to germinate. Once sprouted, you can uncover and let the herb flourish.

Placement is quite important for indoor herbs, they require a decent amount of natural light, at least 4 hours of sunlight a day is recommended. The typical indoor temperature is comfortable enough for most herbs too, but don’t stick them above a radiator.

Growing chillies

Chillies are one of the most popular plants to grow at home. You can buy chillies as pre-grown baby plants or produce your own from seed. They have a long cropping season, so you could be harvesting fresh chillies from late spring to December.

Fill small pots with peat-free compost, and plant a couple of seeds in each pot, about 1.5cm below the soil. Firm the compost down and soak thoroughly with warm water. Chillies need a warm and steady temperature, of about 28˚C and need to be kept moist. In about three weeks, you should see signs of germination.

After the plants start to flower, keep feeding them regularly with a tomato fertiliser which is high in potash to encourage more chillies to grow. The plant produces fruit on sidestems, so when it has reached a decent size, pinch off the tops of the vertical stems. The more side stems, the more chillies.

Caring for houseplants is another great way of bringing the outdoors in, to make the most of the happiness nature has to offer.

Happiness from houseplants

Of course, it’s not just crops that you can grow indoors. There are plenty of ornamental plants to grow if you want something that sits pretty. Pilea peperomioides (Chinese money plant) has grown in popularity and are great for beginners because they are easy to care for. The pad-like leaves look like they’re floating, having a wonderful effect. They’re best positioned in a bright spot out of direct sunlight because insufficient light will make the leaves curl. Quick to grow, they will benefit from a feed occasionally with a houseplant fertiliser to keep the growth healthy.

Euphorbia milii (crown of thorns) are sun lovers, and more sun will lead to more intense flowering for a longer period of time. The colourful bracts look like small flowers, and they stick around all year with sufficient light, for colour all year round. Growing as a succulent, the leaves and stems are fleshy, meaning they don’t require lots of watering – simply when the top inch of compost is dry.

So don’t go without gardening, instead make the most of your windowsills to grow tasty herbs and fruiting plants. Caring for houseplants is another great way of bringing the outdoors in, to make the most of the happiness nature has to offer.

You can change lives with gardening

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