If you live in a small apartment, this quick guide is definitely for you. If you have plenty of space outside, you should still consider planting a windowsill garden.
You’ve Got The Time
If I am going to stick seeds in the dirt, nurse it from sprout to seedling and beyond, I prefer the plant to provide food. Nothing against plants that predominately provide curb appeal but I have a limited amount of time to tend to plants. I have a family that includes two very busy teenagers. Lindsey is a middle school and competitive cheerleader. Sam is a competitive dancer. We are a busy family.
Maintaining a garden is simple and straightforward if you let it be simple. Do not complicate it. Seeds want to become plants and plants want to live. It takes five minutes a day, tops, to grow your own food. Moreover, you’ll know exactly where the food came from and how it was treated (because, duh, it was you). You probably won’t replace all of your produce with your windowsill garden. But, if you get into a routine, you’ll get a lot for your effort. My plan is to pickle everything I grow.
Best of all, you can grow food at any time. I grow food all year. I keep the house at around 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
If I Can Do It, You Will Excel
You absolutely do not need any fancy equipment or a ton of space to plant a simple garden. This is what you need:
- Pots. I use basic 6 1/2″ terracotta planters ($2.98) or the cheaper 5.91″ model ($1.48) depending on what is in stock at the time.
- Planter saucers ($1.48) — The terracotta planters will have holes in the bottom to permit the soil to drain.
- Dirt ($7.98) – a bag of dirt will fill many, many pots. I buy the pre-packaged vegetable mix. I keep it simple. However, one day I might learn to make my own nutrient rich dirt and do a post on it. Maybe I’ll start with Bokashi fermentation.
- Water (price varies)
- Seeds (price varies) — be mindful of what you are planting in the sense that you’ll need to be prepared for when it starts to take off. Are you planting a vine? You may need a trellis. Peppers? You may need dowel rods and twine to support the stalk.
- Sunlight (free)
- Patience (also free)
Side note. I buy the cheap pots for two reasons, 1) they are cheap (obviously) and 2) I was inspired by the Swedish artist Carl Larsson to do so. In one of his most famous paintings Flowers on the windowsill, he depicts a windowsill bursting with life, however, all of the plants emerged from plain pots. He believed that the plants were all the decoration the windowsill needed. Decorated pots would take away from each plants natural beauty. While I’m at it, go download DailyArt to your Android or iPhone. Go learn something.
Plant That Sh*t
Seeds want to become plants and plants want to thrive. Starting a garden inside means that you don’t have to concern yourself, all that much, with Planting Zones. It isn’t as though we’re planting a field of corn or cabbages.
Thus, there are very few steps:
- Fill your pot with dirt.
- Poke your seeds into the dirt about a half inch.
- Put water on the dirty seeds.
- Water when the dirt is dry about once a day. Do it after dinner. Takes 2 seconds.
As your plants emerge, trim back most of the shorties. Permit the bigger plants to grow.
Eventually you’ll start to notice some plants fair better in the direct sunlight than others. Obviously you can read the back of your seed packet (assuming you buy your seeds) and it’ll tell you what plants like. Pay attention to them anyway. Home environments, although somewhat controlled, can surprise you.
For example, the way the sun hits the windows over my kitchen sink, where I planted all of my veggies, the sun seems to seriously elevate the temperature in this space about midday. Move the plants around as needed. If they are wilting give them some water or check the dirt, you may be over watering them.
Don’t fill the pot up with water or you will drown your new friends. I give my veggies about a quarter cup of water when I get home from work every night if they are directly in the sun all day. If the pots get indirect sun all day then I water them every other day.
Moral of the story. If you are thinking about it, do it. Plant some plants. It is a $15 initial investment and you’ll learn something new along the way.
Put seeds in the dirt and water them. Pay attention and adjust as needed. Profit!