Monday, August 10, 2009

City Gardener Extraordinaire

I work for a magazine. In early May I brought home a tiny bell pepper plant from a photo shoot, transferred it into a big flower pot, began watering it, added a weekly fertilizer and sat it in my windowsill just to see what would happen.

Later I bought sweet basil because herbs are like weeds, easy to grow. Than I received two free tomato plants [which I know] require a lot of sun to produce tomatoes. Still nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I transplanted both -- a male and female -- into a single large pot and tended to them too.

Now I have enough basil to make a pesto sauce and three bell peppers that are getting surprisingly big, mature enough to pick soon. The tomato plants have tripled in size. A dozen little yellow flowers have blossomed on each one, and I understand those turn into tomatoes. Had they been outside receiving 6-8 hours of full sun each day, tomatoes would be falling off the vines already. Regardless, I'm thrilled they're doing so well indoors. And plants are pretty. Even without the produce, all the greenery spruces up the apartment. So my experiment of growing the unlikely in flower pots is paying off. With a minimum of time, effort and experience, I'll actually serve fresh picked “garden” peppers, tomatoes and basil for dinner. And straight from my windowsill, I'll savor the sweet taste of success.

Update: Other easy to grow herbs include: mint, oregano, chives, sage, parsley and lavender. The red peppers and tomatoes were delicious! Another way to pollenate tomato plants -- and as it turns out all plants like air -- is to turn a fan on them. Most herbs need 4 hours of direct sunlight to live, but you can use an inexpensive fluorescent light to make up for not having enough sun.


  1. I have to thank a reader who was kind enough to tell me to pollenate the yellow flowers of the tomato plants in order to grow tomatoes. You do this by taking a small brush and gently stoke the yellow flowers of the first plant and then use the same brush to stoke the yellow flowers of the second plant. I did not know this! Apparently bees do this for you if you plant tomatoes outdoors.

    To tell you the truth even after I brought these plants home, I didn't know they were male and female. How do you tell?

  2. I think of myself as sort of a "country girl" but never would have thought of having to pollinate tomatoes grown indoors! Indeed - you learn something new every day! (Should this one be x-rated? LOL)

  3. Hahaha, yes! ... I had no idea what all was going on between the plants in my windows! When I was told that tomato plants had a gender, it was a knock-me-over-with-a-feather moment.