Indoor gardening can be the perfect pick-me-up at any time of year but they are particularly comforting when it is cold outside and your backyard garden has gone dormant. Without much effort, windowsill plantings can provide bursts of freshness to your cooking, bright pops of color on cold days, and a cheerful reminder that you will be back out playing in the soil sooner than you think!
If you are like many Pinetree Garden Seed customers, bedding down your backyard garden brings a mix of emotions—gratitude for the bounty of the growing season behind you, a little bit of relief that the hard work of harvest is done, and a twinge of regret that the joys of gardening are going away for a time.
They don’t have to! Why stop growing? A windowsill garden is a great way to get your fix when conditions won’t allow for outdoor gardening. Often overlooked by more serious home gardeners, the humble windowsill garden can give you all kinds of benefits: fresh flavors and fragrances for your kitchen creations, pretty blooms when the world outside feels barren, and restorative moments of mindfulness as you water or prune your plantings during the colder, darker days.
Look around your house for a sunny window—preferably south-facing, to soak up the most available rays—and start thinking about filling it with greenery and growth. With a few tips below, your humble windowsill garden can yield a surprisingly satisfying harvest!
Choose plants that can adjust to different levels of sunlight
No matter where you live, your windowsill garden will most likely get less light than your backyard garden beds. Plants that must have full sun to thrive might not make it. For plantings that over-perform in window pots, choose seeds that can stand up to a little less sun.
Our gardening experts recommend microgreens, herbs, and edible flowers as fun indoor plantings that flourish with less light. Rotating pots in the windows now and then can also help straighten out seedlings and avoid that leggy look.
Microgreens - Trendy yet timeless, these delicate profusions of delicious greens germinate quickly and easily and can be harvested almost immediately. And they are so pretty! Each tender green leaf is packed with nutrients and adds flavor and texture when scattered over sandwiches, salads, soups, quiches, and more.
Herbs - While you can always plant individual herbs (and you can find a detailed guide to windowsill herbs in a previous blog) our Herb Garden Kit can let you plant multiple herbs in the same pot or tray. This creates a delightful variety of leaf shapes and colors and a rich blend of aromatics as well as “one-stop shopping” for cuttings while you are cooking.
Add Edible Flowers - Another customer favorite that maximizes windowsill garden space is our Edible Flower and Herb Mix. If you enjoy designing creative planter gardens—mixing plant heights, foliage and flower colors, and textures to maximum effect—this is the mix for you. Every planter can produce its own edible arrangement of oregano, calendula, monarda, perilla, thyme, nasturtium, agastache, allium, borage, hyssop, chamomile, melissa, basil, parsley, salvia.
Try Thyme - This recommendation comes straight from Pinetree Garden Seeds co-owner and passionate home cook, Jef, who adds thyme to pretty much every dish he can. Pinetree Garden Seeds sells several varieties of thyme, each with slightly different flowers, leaf and stem colors, and intoxicating aromas. If you only plant one pot on your kitchen windowsill, Jef thinks it should be thyme—and his family, who loves his roast squash with shallots and thyme, agrees!
Invest in high quality potting soil and planters with proper drainage
You can plant a windowsill garden in almost anything, from empty and washed plastic yogurt containers to handcrafted ceramic pots. The key is to make sure your planter has at least one hole for drainage, a saucer or plate to catch runoff and protect your windowsill from water damage, and rich and nourishing potting soil in which to grow.
Water—but don’t overwater—your windowsill garden
How do you know when a windowsill planting is well watered? While different plantings will have different tolerances (and your home’s humidity levels will also play a part), there are some good rules of thumb.
Weekly watering should be adequate for most indoor plants. If your home is particularly warm or dry—for instance, if your planting is in close proximity to a hearth or woodstove—you may need to water more frequently. Not sure if your plants are getting enough? Press your finger a couple centimeters into the potting soil to see if it is damp. Overwatering can stress or blight your seedlings so don’t overdo it.
Have pets? Have a plan to keep them out of your windowsill garden
Indoor garden pests are quite a bit more furry and lovable than outdoor garden pests but they can be destructive just the same. Cats, in particular, can be tempted by both the potting soil and the greens growing within them, and can make quite a sport of knocking over pots or chewing on tender leaves. Our gardening experts recommend planting a little pot of catnip just for cats and spraying others with hot pepper for a natural deterrent.
Remember forcing avocado pits as a kid? It is just as fun to do today. Somehow, stripping back to a few seeds and plants can reawaken the natural wonder of how simple and spectacular it is to watch something grow. Involve children or grandchildren in planting or tending. Photograph your most successful pots or spend a quiet moment sketching them with colored pencils or watercolors. Share a few precious pots as gifts. Just like your backyard garden, one of the great harvests of a windowsill garden should be happiness.
Windowsill gardens are reminders to grow where you are planted and make the most of every sunny day, so start one today. Let us know your most successful windowsill garden plantings in the comments and keep us posted on your progress.