If you live in an apartment (like me), you know the woes of wanting a garden but not having enough space for one. Thankfully, you can successfully grow an indoor container garden if you have even just one windowsill that gets enough light. Come summer, all my windowsills are bursting with life, and trust me when I say it's the best feeling ever. I recommend growing plants from seed, then transferring them over to a pot on your windowsill. Here are three easy plants to start growing now for a beautiful indoor garden.
Basil was the first plant I ever grew from seed. Definitely a smart choice, considering it's one of the easiest to grow from seed. To start, get some small terra cotta pots and place a few small stones at the bottom to help with drainage. Make sure the small terra cotta pots have at least one drainage hole at the bottom. Place slightly damp soil into the terra cotta pots, then poke a hole and put one seed in it. Sprinkle some more soil over it, but not too much. I suggest having three small terra cotta pots, one seed per pot. You could also use a paper egg carton to sprout seedlings. Water them every day and leave in a sunny window, but don't overwater. I fill up a cap with water and give no more than two spoonfuls of water to the plants. In 7 to 14 days, you should see some sprouts.
When the sprouts grow big enough (about three inches or so), you can transfer them over into a bigger pot. All three sprouts can share one pot (if all three of them sprouted, that is). To transfer, simply tilt the pot over and tip the plant into your hand. Make sure you have a bigger pot ready with fresh soil to place the plant in. The bigger pot should be filled to the top, but have a hole big enough to fit your new sprouts into. Once your plants are in the hole, close the hole up around the plant by pressing the soil into it. You can add more soil if you must. Once your plants are stable inside the pot, give it some water and place it on a sunny windowsill. Just like with the small terra cotta pots, make sure your big pot has good drainage holes at the bottom too. Water it every day and it should flourish! Basil can grow pretty high, so you may be surprised at how lush and beautiful your plants become. To harvest, just pinch off some basil leaves and either dry them, freeze them, or use them right away (they'll smell amazing, trust me).
If you love a good salad, growing lettuce is a must. You can have fresh salad all summer long (for cheap!) if you grow lettuce at home. Thankfully, growing it from seed is fairly easy. As with basil, you can start lettuce in small terra cotta pots or in paper egg cartons. Plant one lettuce seed per pot/individual carton in slightly dampened soil and make sure to cover with a light layer of soil. Water every day (but don't overwater) and place on a sunny windowsill. When you have sprouts after 7 to 14 days, wait until they grow a little bit more before transplanting them into bigger pots. If you want really big heads of lettuce, I suggest giving each sprout its own pot so it has room to grow. A wider pot is better than a deeper pot for lettuce (seeing as lettuce does not have deep roots, but instead grows outward).
Once your little sprouts have been transplanted into bigger pots, make sure they are stable and secure by patting the soil around the plants down. Water as needed if the soil feels dry to your fingertips. Place it on a sunny windowsill with enough room and watch it grow. When the leaves grow big enough, snip them off and wash only right before you plan on adding them to your salad. Baby lettuce leaves are also edible, but it's best to let the leaves grow out. Once they get really big, snip and use right away so they don't wither.
Believe it or not, tomatoes can flourish in pots and can be grown from seed. Many people purchase tomato sprouts and plant them right away, but that takes away from the fun and experimentation of it. The best tomatoes to grow in pots are cherry tomatoes, so choose a type you want to grow (heirloom cherry tomatoes are both beautiful and a good choice) and get planting. Start by placing at least two to three seeds in their own individual small terra cotta pots. Make sure the pots have good drainage. Fill the pots with soil and poke holes in each of them. Add one seed to each hole, then cover with a sprinkle of soil. Water every day (but don't overwater) and leave on a sunny windowsill.
When your tomatoes begin to sprout, after about 10 days, you'll want to wait until they're three inches tall to transplant them. They'll need a six-inch pot or bigger (approximately 12 inches should be more than enough room). Transplant the seedlings into separate containers (each needs their own pot to grow healthily) just as you have with the lettuce and basil. As the plant grows steadily, they may need to be stalked to avoid broken stems. Push the stake down next to the stalk, or if using a cage, over the seedling. If using a stake, use tomato clips to secure the tomato stalk to the stake. You can get tomato stakes and cages at hardware stores or online.
Once the tomato plant is settled and growing, you'll start to see tomatoes growing on your plant as they come into maturity. When the fruits are red and firm, but have a slight "give" to the touch, they're ready to eat. Obviously, the color of said tomato will vary depending on the variety you grow, but generally look for firmness with a slight give to determine ripeness. Either clip or gently twist and pull the fruits from their stems. You'll be rewarded with delicious tomatoes for the rest of the summer (which you can satisfyingly say you grew from seed).