If you’re looking to make your home a more inviting environment, adding plants to your desk or windowsill is an easy way to start. Numerous studies have shown that houseplants can lift our mood and even help with our physical health, but you don’t need to spend a fortune on exotic cacti to enjoy the benefits of bringing a little nature indoors. Read on to discover how you can enjoy houseplants on a budget, or even for free!
What you'll need to begin
Unless you have access to your own compost bin in your garden, to begin growing plants at home you will need to invest in a small bag of compost, which you should be able to purchase for just a few pounds from your local garden centre, supermarket, or online.
You’ll also need containers to grow your plants in. There’s no need to order chic planters for them (unless you really want to!), as you can re-use empty packaging from your kitchen: large yoghurt pots or clear plastic fruit containers are excellent for growing seedlings. Carefully use a scalpel to cut a few drainage holes in the bottom, if they don’t already have them, before popping them inside empty tin cans, jars, or old teapots, propped up with a few pebbles for drainage.
Raid your spice rack for seeds
During the first lockdown of 2020, many seed growers around the UK were unable to keep up with demand for seeds, but your spice cupboard might already contain a surprising number! Mustard, coriander, and parsley seeds can all be planted straight from the packet, and will soon provide you with edible salad leaves. If you have any dried peas lurking at the back of the pantry, you can plant these, too, and they’ll quickly grow into pretty (and edible) pea shoots.
Think before you throw away!
There are also a host of plants you can grow from vegetable leftovers. Last year I grew something of a triffid from cherry tomato seeds that were left on my chopping board after preparing a salad, and even harvested a very modest crop of tomatoes from it! A note of warning: your little tomato seedlings will soon need to be transplanted from yogurt pots into larger containers, and will also thank you if you provide them with sticks for support!
Although supermarkets sometimes remove the roots from the bottom of spring onions, if they don’t you can place them inside a small dish filled with water - I use the glass ramekins from dessert pots. They’ll soon regrow into green shoots, which can be planted in soil when they are a few centimetres high, and used instead of chives.
You might also find that you can grow mint plants from the fresh leaves that you buy at the supermarket: strip the bottom leaves off the sprig, and place them in a jar of water on a sunny windowsill. If you’re lucky, within a few weeks they will sprout roots, and can then be transplanted into a soil-filled pot.
Don’t be afraid of failure
As with so many things in life, the fun of indoor gardening is in the process, not the result! Not everything that you try will work: despite repeated attempts to grow an avocado plant from avocado stones, using several different methods, I’ve never managed to make one take root! I also discovered that I can’t grow radishes from seeds in a couple of inches of soil inside a Tupperware box, but inadvertently discovered that radish shoots make a delicious micro-crop to add to salads!
When seeds fail to sprout into seedlings after several weeks, I accept that something wasn’t quite right, and move on to the next experiment. Unlike baking, which often requires precision and care to perfect, with indoor gardening I always find that I’m delighted at anything green that appears from the soil, and never seem to grow tired of watching plants develop and grow.
Rebecca at the Crafty Kit Co xoxo
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