What inspired you to create The House Gardener?
My book, The House Gardener, came to mind over the winter months, while looking out onto my two small balconies in my north London apartment. I have always kept a few houseplants but not in any concentration and I really wanted to evoke that feeling of green indoors as I wasn’t spending much time outdoors. It also made me think, “what if you didn’t have any outdoor space at all, how could you bring a garden indoors?” So my attention was greatly focused on bringing nature to life inside the home.
What are your top tips for those wishing to grow herbs in cramped spaces, like a city apartment?
Planting a herb garden is a great way to start container gardening, if you like in a small apartment. Not only do you get the satisfaction of growing your own produce but they are great for adding to your cooking. Mint, chives, rosemary, parsley and a salad mix are good varieties to start with.
The key thing to remember is that plants are living things, they need light, water and regular food. The most common reason that people kill their plants is watering – they either water too much or too little, check with your finger – if it’s moist up to your knuckle then you don’t need to water your plant for a couple of days, if it’s dry then water slowly and moderately until moist.
We love your use of recycled bottles for the hanging plants! What are some other recycled products that work well?
Using unexpected objects as containers, as well as recycling old ones, is a wonderful and inventive way to show off and exhibit houseplants. I use everything from old pots to milk jugs and pitchers, there is always a way to update and recycle unwanted objects. I love trawling through junk shops and antiques markets, searching for something unusual and fun.
And what about recycled products to grow herbs/ edible plants in?
Try using an old wooden crate or even an old drawer. Ask your local pizza restaurant for discarded tomato and olive tins – these are catering size so larger than normal and usually have colourful designs on the front – perfect for bright flowering plants. You will achieve a really individual look and give a product another lease of life.
Just make sure, whatever you use, that you have a couple of drainage holes at the bottom.
The House Gardener by Isabelle Palmer published by CICO $49.95 available in stores nationally.