Winter Window Sill Gardening

If you live in an area of our world where winter’s cold makes you weary, then chase your winter blahs away with a bit of windowsill gardening. Even if your world is warm in winter, you may not have outdoor growing space. So, if you have never grown herbs or other edibles indoors why not give it a try! There is nothing like having them fresh and at your disposal without having to visit a grocery store. It takes a sunny south-facing window and a little planning.

Many herbs can successfully be grown indoors. Some favorites you may want to try are curly parsley, Italian (or flat) parsley, onion chives, English mint, spicy globe basil, sage, Greek oregano and lemon thyme. Of course, there are plenty of other varieties but these seem to be well suited for indoor growing. If you choose to start them from seed, plan on 8-12 weeks (depending on the herb) before you start clipping the leaves for use. Use a 6” pot with drainage holes in the bottom and fill it 7/8 full with a lightweight commercial potting soil that you have pre-moistened. Sow seeds 1” apart over the entire surface. Cover lightly with the soil (no more than 3 times the seed’s greatest diameter to be exact) and water-in lightly so as not to float the seeds. Place your pot or pots on a saucer or tray filled with an inch or two of decorative pebbles. Doing this insures good drainage and also increases humidity, as it can be dry in homes during the winter months. Lay a piece of plastic wrap loosely over the pot rim until you see the seeds begin to sprout and then remove it. Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet until germination is complete and then allow the soil surface to become dry before you water the pot thoroughly. Fertilize weekly once the seeds have germinated. Your herbs will need at least 4-6 hours of bright sunlight each day to grow properly. If this is not possible you may want to purchase a plant �grow-light’ to supplement the lighting. Turn your pots every few days as plants have a tendency to bend towards the light and this will keep them growing straight.

A quicker way to have that indoor garden is to purchase pots of herbs form a nursery. You can then transplant them into larger pots or group similar varieties for an attractive look. I find it is easier to purchase many plants such as rosemary, dwarf sage and lavender as all are not available in seeds and/or for the fact that I like instant gratification. Maintain the same growing conditions as the plants you are growing from seed but remember that, generally, larger plants require more water and may dry out faster.

If you are already an outdoor gardener you may simply choose to dig up and repot some of your outdoor herbs and bring in for the winter, especially the ones that are annuals such as basil, lemon verbena and summer savory. You may find that the old leaves fall off but soon new ones will be growing. Another idea is to take cuttings from your mint before it goes dormant in the fall as they root easily.

Herbs aren’t the only plants for a windowsill. Leaf lettuce, radishes and even small-rooted varieties of carrots can be grown in an 8” pot. Use the same sowing procedure and space the seeds about 1” apart. Make sure to keep the lettuce constantly moist and in at least 6 hours of sunlight for best production.

Whichever method you choose, you can have success with your winter windowsill garden. It will bring fragrance, color and enjoyment to you all winter long.

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Author: Debi

I live in Leesburg, Virginia where I teach high school students in the Agriculture Department. Additionaly, I am self-employed as a horticultural consultant and landscape designer. "Beefriend the Bees!" and "Neither Here Nor There" are children's books I wrote and illustrated available from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Deborah Chaves&x=12&y=25. Other interests include singing and playing my guitar (also have a CD for sale on Amazon called "Gardening Therapy"); walking my American Bulldog, Cloud and Olde English Bulldogge, Sky; staying active in my local church, and blogging on the www.thedailylily.com.

5 thoughts on “Winter Window Sill Gardening”

  1. Your “windowsill magic” for sprucing up the home and extending the festive & celebrity of the greenery of the Christmas season through the Winter into Spring sounds like fun and very rewarding. Thank you for the tips on Boxing up our Windows!!

  2. I didn’t take mine out of my outdoor pots and now is has frozen. Is it too late to bring in or will they come back in the spring if I leave out. I sure hope to remember to do this next year as I really love my herbs that I grow each summer.

    1. If you were growing perennial (live for several years)herbs such as lavender, rosemary, mints, parsley, chives, winter savory, thymes, etc. they will probably come back from the root system even though the tops are frozen and look dead. Leave them outside now but keep them watered if there is not much rain or snow. Even some annual(live and die in one year)herbs such as lemon verbena, summer savory, basil, etc. may come back if they went to seed and the seed dropped on the soil and germinates when the temperatures warm up.

  3. Debi, This is a beautiful article. I was able to do this with a group of women when I taught “Dressing for His Glory”. Everyone took a pot home of Rosemary, and they all enjoyed the fruits of it later on. I want to try it with lettuce, which I didn’t know you could do, as I love garden lettuce. Thanks for such an informative article.

    What about flowering plants for the indoors. I have been very successful with African Violets which was one of my Mother’s favorites. It kind of reminds me of her and that is the reason I started growing them. Are there other plants which flower that would be great for growing indoors?

    1. Rena, there a a number of flowering plants that do well indoors. If you grow African violets successfully you may want to try Streptocarpus (Cape Primrose)or Streptocarpella which enjoy similar conditions. There are several varieties of begonias such as Angelwing or Dragonwing or Non-Stop which bloom almost continuously in moderately bright light. Many orchid varieties produce blooms on a regular basis. If you have a real sunny window tropical hibiscus, which come in an array of beautiful colors, will perform great. Hope this gives you a few ideas.

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