YesYou can grow food on your windowsill, especially if it’s sunny. The best yield comes from microleaves – the nutritious young leaves of salads and other vegetables. They often pack a punch with flavor and make a lovely garnish. You can harvest the leaves when they are about 5 cm and no more. Thus, each sowing is a single harvest. Take-out trays, using the lid as a saucer, are ideal. Sow the seeds in a thick layer, but not so that they overlap. Basil, watercress, mustard, crucifers, red amaranth, cilantro, and peas all make excellent microgreens. Skysprouts.co.uk and hodmedods.co.uk stock seeds at a fair price. Or grow mushrooms – in a book. the Grow your own oyster mushroom book kit will get you started. Simply place the mushroom spawn in a pocket book, moisten it and wait for a mass of mushrooms to burst between the pages. Alys Fowler
Chef Ollie Dabbous on unusual herbs you can grow at home
lovage – tastes like the smell of a freshly mowed lawn. Native and sadly underutilized, this herb is a pleasant change from parsley.
Perilla – a member of the mint family, popular in Asian cuisine but lesser known in Europe. It is most recognizable as the symbolic leaf used to garnish sashimi in Japanese restaurants. The flavor, however, deserves special attention: clean, grassy and green. It’s a great alternative to cilantro and works well in cocktails.
Worry – fresh, coriander seed, citrus flavor. It works well in both sweet and savory dishes. AT Dabbous, it is served with ripe peaches, fresh almonds and light olive oil. On the ground floor of Oskar’s Bar, it is used to infuse aged white rum before being served with fresh fruit juices as a summer punch.
Chrysanthemum – appreciated in Asian cuisine, these slightly bitter leaves provide an invigorating freshness; they cut the fat from a dish and provide a counterpoint that keeps a plate of food from looking bland. Flower petals can also be added.
minor mint – has a wild and dry taste, between oregano, thyme and ordinary mint; fantastic with lamb, green beans and artichokes. Popular in Italian cuisine, this hardy plant also grows well here and deserves more appreciation than it gets.
Use your discarded fruit seeds
Lemons, oranges, avocados, mangoes, lychees, pomegranates, and even Medjool dates can all be sprouted from discarded seeds. Lemon and oranges germinate at around 15-20C. Mangoes germinate at 21-25C, which is very moist soil. Avocados germinate at a similar temperature, but are best germinated suspended over a glass of water using toothpicks to balance the sides – the bottom half should rest in the ‘water. Lychees must be fresh and are slow to germinate; they do it around 18C.
For pomegranates, plant several seeds in a pot of compost on a warm, sunny windowsill (18-21C); they tend to germinate quickly if ripe. Select the strongest to coat. Medjool dates should be soaked for a week, changing the water daily. Then place them between damp kitchen towels (replace them if they get moldy) and put them in a freezer bag. Keep it somewhere warm, above the fridge maybe, and wait. They take several weeks to germinate. Once germinated, repot in moist compost and continue to keep warm. Alys Fowler
Become an indoor farmer
You dream of calling yourself a farmer, but you live on the sixth floor. Find a plastic container. Drill holes in it, fill with compost and sow your seeds – oats, buckwheat or flax. Add compost and water. So that’s your beautiful green field. Alys Fowler
Grow your own cocktail ingredients
Herbs are the unsung heroes of the cocktail. Mint is wonderful, but why stop there? A sprig of agastache herb will add a hint of sweet, licorice flavor to your gin and tonic, and grow happily in a pot on the balcony. Cucamelons look like miniature watermelons, perfect for Barbie and Ken, but taste like a tangy cucumber. Borage is another cucumber-scented herb, with delicate star-shaped blue flowers, that pairs very well with Pimms. Start with a cocktail garden kit from culture pioneer Plant Theater, £13.50. Becky Barnicoat