Windowsill Gardens

Windowsill Gardens

Windowsill Gardens on

Windowsill gardens can be sad affairs.  You know what I mean – wilted parsley, yellowed sage, some herb you never heard of and wouldn’t know how to use even if it was healthy, and a gnarled mint plant that can’t push out enough leaves for even one mint julep.  Edible plantings should be lush, gorgeous, and bursting with life – and they certainly don’t need to be relegated to the kitchen.  I walked into a shop in Georgetown the other day and saw a cluster of microgreens flourishing in a little concrete container, looking more fresh and appealing than any ordinary houseplant.  I could imagine that lettuce growing on a sunny windowsill, pushing out happy little nutrients to be harvested periodically with a pair of scissors and sprinkled over fish or into a dinner salad.   What a happy feeling, to grow something useful, accessible, and easy.

Parsley in the Windowsill Garden on

One of the best things to grow indoors is parsley.  Every summer, I mix a half-dozen flat-leaf and curly parsley plants together and put them outside every couple of weeks to give them a big growth spurt, and to let the wind ruffle through their leaves – a sort of summer vacation for the herbs.  Then they stay at a window with a southern exposure in the winter, providing enough parsley to actually be useful for cooking.

Sorel and Basil in the Windowsill Garden on

Herbs can provide varied and pleasing color to a room.  Purple basil and sorrel combine in this planter, compatible not just in color, but in the amount of water they need.  It never works to mix herbs like basil and parsley – plants that need regular watering – with rosemary or lavender, which need much less water.  The basil and sorrel will need to be transplanted to larger containers in a month or two, or outside, where the sorrel can get much bigger.  (If you haven’t tried sorrel soup, you might buy a bunch of sorrel at the local farmer’s market and give it a try.  Its complex, earthy flavor is a perfect cold summer soup option.)

Watercrests in the Windowsill Garden on

These watercress plants need plenty of water, but they grow very quickly, especially in a southern exposure.  I put them in a container with a little extra space around them, to accommodate their rapid growth.  The leaves can be snipped off for sandwiches and salads, and within a few weeks a new crop will be flourishing.

Mint in the Windowsill Garden on

Mint in multiples makes it more useful.  You could easily get 4 mint juleps out of this container, and have plenty left for other things.  It’s best to be thoughtful about where you plant mint outside, as it spreads so quickly that some consider it an invasive plant.

The amount of light your indoor plants get, and the direction from which it comes, makes all the difference between a healthy, growing plant and a stunted one.  Right now I’m looking at some sweet potato vines I planted in my office on either side of a high window.  I wanted the vines to grow up the wall to the ceiling, to create a natural curtain of green.  The southern exposure is thriving; the northern exposure is, well, behind…

Sweet Potatoes in the Windowsill Garden on

Sweet Potatoes in the Windowsill Garden on

I hope you’ll give this indoor urban garden idea a shot.  It feels good to get your fingers in the dirt, and smell the green freshness of a living plant.  And some of them make excellent, quiet comp

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