Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Makeshift Garden-Less Gardening

Inspired by what I've seen on other blogs I thought I'd join the green-fingered brigade and write a gardening post.

As for the title...well, I don't actually have a garden, just a pitifully small L-shaped concreted back yard with enough room to string a few washing lines across it and very little else. Nevertheless, today I've been gardening.

In the past I've grown quite a few bits and pieces in pots but haven't been organised enough to plant anything for a couple of years. I hadn't intended growing anything this year either but a lovely generous lady at my slimming club asked a few weeks ago if anyone wanted some tomato plants. Free is my favourite price so I thought I'd take a couple and see how that went. I still had some pots and plastic planters and also 1/2 a bag of compost from previous attempts, so the plants went into a nice big terracota flower pot and they're doing quite well and have now sprouted some pretty yellow flowers. I'm hoping to add a homegrown tomato or two to my salads in the near future. 

I hadn't intended planting anything else this year, but an idea in this month's Craftseller magazine caught my eye and I thought I'd give it a go. The project was to make a hanging basket from a metal colander. I had just the thing languishing unused at the back of my cupboard; a cream and green enamelled colander. I decided to make a mini herb garden as I already had some packets of seeds, and all I paid out for extra was a pack of 2 hanging basket liners from Poundland. 

This is the result of my makeshift hanging basket herb garden. 

It's not as pretty as the one in the magazine that had proper chains to hang it with, but then that one was intended to be sold for profit. Mine is suspended by some old boot laces but it does what I want it to and I'm hoping the seeds (basil, marjoram, chives and parsley) will sprout as they are a couple of years past their sell-by date. I'll keep you updated if (when) I actually get plants growing in it.

While I was sorting through the seed packets I came across salad leaves and lettuce. Using the last of the compost, I sprinkled those in one of the plastic planters. I've previously had good results with baby salad leaves and would love to be able to pick my own instead  of buying packets of chopped leaves that go off in a couple of days. 

Since I was on a grow-your-own-without-a-garden roll I also made a cress tray from an old ice cream tub lined with dampened toilet tissues and placed it on the kitchen windowsill. Once again, the cress seeds are out of date so I'm not sure whether my efforts will be successful, but I hope so as I love egg and cress with low fat mayonnaise on a jacket potato.

It just goes to show that anyone can grow their own veg at very little cost. The seeds themselves are the most expensive item nowadays as compost can be bought cheaply at a supermarket, and containers can be improvised from almost anything. If I'd had to buy my seeds then Ebay is the place to look or the £1 shops in the Spring as this time of year most have very little choice of seeds left.

I'm open to any advice from seasoned gardeners out there. I also wonder whether anyone else remembers growing cress in this way at school or, as my kids did, on damp cottonwool stuffed into an eggshell with a face painted on it so that it looked hair.


  1. Growing cress and mustard seeds on damp paper towels was my school project at junior school many years ago. I now have a fancy sprouter I use for growing bean sprouts (Mung beans) and Alfalfa to add to sandwiches and salads.

    1. I'd forgotten about mustard seeds. I've thought about getting a sprouter but don't know how much I'd use it. I know you can sprout beans just in a jam jar or some such, so I might give that a go.

  2. I think the term my friend uses s 'yardening' ! I too have a cream colander and I adore your bootstraps!

  3. Don't forget to liquid feed your tomato! My sister had an L shaped concrete back yard and had a very productive garden in (I set it up as she also thought she couldn't garden in it). She started off with large tyres before progressing onto raised beds. She grew all her summer salad things, runner and French beans, leeks etc.