I am more than happy to promote growing produce for the table. We don’t all have acres of land, in fact it could be the biggest area of soil you have is a window box. That doesn’t matter in the least, if you want to grow something fresh. There are a number of conveniently-sized vegetables which can be grown in a very small space. Although I do have an outdoor garden, it’s not all suitable for growing produce, so make up for it by growing in containers.
My window box choice could be nasturtiums, they can all be eaten, leaves and flowers in salads, and the pods pickled as ‘poor man’s capers’. I could also have fuchsias, their flowers are edible and adorn salads with panache, and likewise the berries can be used to make jam. They are sweet and very tasty. Of course many flowers are edible but not all have edible seed pods.
The small-time vegetables can include carrot, turnip, beetroot and peas. Paris Market carrots are small, round, golf ball-sized vegetables, Snowball turnip is just slightly bigger and Chioggia beetroot, quite distinctive for its alternate red and cream lines. The leaves of the vegetables make very nice-looking plants, and their leaves, too, are edible. Add the nasturtium, fuchsia, Indian mint and tomatoes, and you have trailing plants which would finish off any window box with style.
I have grown a small, round courgette, Tondo Chiaro di Nizza, although their large leaves need to be accommodated so may need a pot of their own. The fruit can be eaten at tennis ball size. Like the courgette, Lemon Cucumber and Passandra F1 Cucumber, are small fruits but their growing habits need a bit of space and would happily grow anywhere the vines can cling on to, even if it’s a window frame. I’ve haven’t yet tried them as trailing plants.
Now there is a dinky, Tom Thumb pea, which only grows about 20 cms tall. When it comes to peas, if you have room to let them climb, then the Purple-podded pea has colourful pink and purple flowers and lovely purple pods, which look equally attractive. Strawberries couldn’t be missed and even leaving the trailers on, would add to the looks and give you more plants for the next year.
Tomatoes don’t need to be forgotten either, Tumbling Toms can grow in hanging baskets, so why not in a window box? Although I prefer slightly bigger varieties and you can’t grow tomatoes without growing basil, and there are many colourful basils besides the better-known Greek or Italian. Purple ruffles is one of several deep maroon-coloured basils, and of course there is that lovely perfume which comes with it. Here mine are growing in pots in a rainwater gutter inside the greenhouse. It’s closed at both ends and watering is easy by just topping up the gutter.
My favourite of all mints, is Indian Mint. Quite robust although it looks delicate and quite different from other garden mints, it has a lovely aromatic perfume and can be grown in a hanging basket. It is used in some cooking, but harvesting the leaves at the end of the season, dried and stored, they make a really lovely cup of mint tea, with a fine flavour which is not overpowering, and it will come back the following year.
There is no reason why you can’t enjoy lovely plants which have a little bonus at the end.