Herbs in plant pots growing on a windowsill

Secrets for How to Grow An Edible Garden Just About Anywhere!

Wish you could grow an edible garden, but you just don’t have any place to do that? I’ve got good news. Even if you rent and your landlord won’t allow you to dig up part of the property—no problem.

Herbs in plant pots growing on a windowsill

Even if you don’t have time to tend a full-size garden; even if you don’t have time or resources to build square-foot boxes. Even in a small garden, you can grow lots and lots of different vegetables and enjoy a great harvest for your effort. Nothing quite compares to cooking with vegetables that you’ve grown yourself.

You don’t need acreage, a big yard, or “perfect” conditions. In fact, you really don’t need any yard at all. You can get started today growing your own food in myriad ways. It’s easy, too!

On a Windowsill

So you don’t have a deck, a patio, or back yard. Or maybe you have all of them but no desire whatsoever to garden outdoors. Got a window with a sill? You can grow a windowsill garden! Get ready for a new adventure.

This means that even if you are an apartment-dweller, you can find the space to grow food and beautify your space at the same time. All it takes is a well-lit windowsill, some pots, plants, and a good attitude. The rest is going to take care of itself.

You will need to select the right spot, the right container and the right plants, but that’s easy. Take a look at How to Start Your First Windowsill Garden, and you’ll be window-gardening in no time at all!

On a Deck

Even in a small space like a deck or patio, you can grow many different vegetables and enjoy an amazing harvest for your efforts. There is nothing quite like making meals with herbs and vegetables that you have grown yourself—that you can harvest fresh, right outside your back door.

Check out these 11 tips for growing vegetables on a deck or patio.

In a Pot

You really can grow an amazing amount of food in a pot or two—I’m talking peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and all kinds of herbs. The pot can be plastic, wood, or terra cotta. And here’s the nice thing—you can move pots according to how much sun they need—or shade.

To get the low down on the right kind of soil to use and exact how-tos, check out this great tutorial with video, How to Grow a Plentiful Container Vegetable Garden, from our friends and Better Homes and Gardens. You’re going to love this!

In a Plastic Trash Bag

Seriously, you can grow a garden in a trash bag. The easiest way to get started growing stuff in plastic bags is with potatoes. To get started you’ll need a heavy-duty black trash bag, a shovel, a knife, potting soil, “seed” potatoes, and agricultural sulfur—available online or at any garden center. Find a complete step-by-step tutorial for how to get your bag planted and those potatoes growing here.


Fun Gardening Tips

Once you get going, here are a collection of random gardening tips to further your success and enjoyment for all size gardens from acreage to windowsills.

Clean nails

Keep dirt out from under your fingernails by scratching a bar of soap before beginning. When you’re finished, wash your hands thoroughly. The soap will wash cleanly from under your fingernails.

Railroad ties

Avoid using railroad ties in or around your vegetable garden. The chemicals used as preservatives to keep the wood from rotting are now thought to be toxic and harmful.


Control powdery mildew with milk. Dilute 1 part milk in 9 parts water and spray on the plants.

Master’s touch

Gently brush your hands across your tiny seedlings several times a day. This stimulates them to grow slightly slower, resulting in stronger, sturdier stems.

Free weed “cloth”

Use newspapers as weed barriers when creating a new bed. They are printed with soy ink and decompose nicely, and are simple to replace once decomposed. Use black and white pages only, not the slick colored advertisements or colored pages. Once in place, cover the newsprint with mulch.

Free mulch

Coffee and tea grounds make excellent mulch around acid-loving plants. Caffeine is a natural fertilizer, but don’t overdo it as too much could promote excessive leaf growth and diminished fruit production. In the case of tea grounds, you can leave them in the tea bag provided it’s made of paper, silk, or muslin. Bury it in the soil to provide nourishment for plants and a tasty treat for worms. Just be sure to remove the tags first. They take a long time to break down and might be plastic coated.

Perfect seed starters

Cardboard egg cartons make excellent seed starters. Punch a hole in the bottom for drainage, fill with potting soil, plant your seeds and watch them flourish!

Consider conditions

When choosing plants for your yard or garden, analyze your specific sunlight, soil, and climate first. Choose plants accordingly. Any garden center will have the personnel to answer questions and help make appropriate selections.

Mosquito-repelling plants

Citronella, Lemon Eucalyptus, Cinnamon, Castor, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Cedar, Peppermint, Clove, Geranium, Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Basil, Thyme, and Garlic.

Potting soil, please

Don’t use garden soil as potting soil in containers. Its quality and texture is variable; it may drain poorly or be too loose and drain too quickly. It is also more likely to contain diseases, weed seeds, and insects. Do it right the first time using a standard potting soil, and you won’t be disappointed.

Project headstart

Soak seeds to get a jump on the season. Before germinating, seeds need to drink up moisture, just as if drenched by spring rains. Once they become plump and swollen, the little embryo inside will begin to grow, signaling that it’s ready to be planted.

Seedling protectors

Keep cutworms away from seedlings with the cardboard centers of toilet paper rolls. Cutworms, which are moth caterpillars, creep along the soil surface, eating tender stem bases of young seedlings and cut sprouts off at the roots. That cardboard tube will protect seedlings from these predators.

There’s something soothing and satisfying about getting your hands dirty and watching stuff grow!

First published: 3-16-17; Revised:  5-20-20

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1 reply
  1. Judy says:

    I read I could use 5 gallon plastic buckets to grow tomatoes. Then the article cautioned to use only food grade plastic buckets. I hadn’t thought about toxic plastic buckets, yikes. I bought 5 gallon used pickle buckets from steak & shake pretty cheap. Just a reminder about toxic plastic that can leach toxins into food.


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