Start Your Green Thumb with a Windowsill Garden

You’ve wanted to get into gardening for quite some time. Maybe you read our article Why Gardening Makes Seniors Happier & Healthier. Maybe your neighbor or sister has a beautiful and fertile little vegetable garden that you’ve always been jealous of. You’ve just never had the time, knowledge, or space to grow your own garden. Perhaps the idea of maintaining a large garden isn’t as appealing to you. Whatever your reason, there is a type of garden that can fill your desire and cause very little stress — a windowsill garden!

Why Have a Windowsill Garden?

A windowsill garden is just that: a garden that’s located on your windowsill. This lends itself to be a perfect gardening option for people with limited space or time to spend gardening. This is especially ideal for new gardeners because windowsill gardens are primarily used for growing herbs, which tend to be easier to grow than other vegetables. Also, since windowsill gardens are located by a window, tasks like watering, cleaning, and harvesting are all right within reach.

This adds green to your home and gives you at least some of the benefits of gardening, if maintaining a full garden isn’t possible for your circumstances.

By the same logic, windowsill gardens are perfect for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of space to work with. If you live in a senior living facility or a city (and your neighborhood doesn’t have a communal garden), you may not have the land to grow a full-sized garden. But, you likely do have a window! Another group that could similarly benefit from windowsill gardens that we haven’t mentioned are the homebound. We’ve discussed how gardening can help bring joy to those who are homebound before, but if getting outside to your garden is difficult, your sill garden is easily accessible. This adds green to your home and gives you at least some of the benefits of gardening, if maintaining a full garden isn’t possible for your circumstances.

How to Start a Windowsill Garden

Okay, so you’re on board with a windowsill garden. Next, you have to figure out how to actually make one. Here, you have a few options. First, you can either build the garden inside, on the actual windowsill, or outside, in a contraption like a flower box. This will decide the type of planter you use and even which window you place it in. With an indoor window garden, you could use an indoor planter or small terracotta pots to individually plant different herbs or vegetables. If you go the outside route, there are hanging or attached planter boxes to choose from. You then have the option to buy or build your own planters if you’re in the DIY spirit. No matter which options you go with, it’s important that your planter has good drainage so you can control how much water your plant is getting.

There are other facets to starting a windowsill garden, but for the most part, we’re just taking our suggestions from Beginner’s Tips for Your First Garden and modifying them for a windowsill garden.

The other important decision is location. Most gardens need about six to eight hours of sunlight to prosper. While this is easier to do in a full outdoor garden, it’s still possible with your windowsill garden. Simply find your window that receives the most sunlight during the day. In the northern hemisphere, this will be any south-facing window in your home. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, it’s flipped. An east- or west- facing window will get some sunlight as well, possibly not enough for a healthy windowsill garden, but some sunlight is better than none. If you’re finding that your plants aren’t getting enough sunlight, you can supplement the natural lighting with a grow light designed to make up the difference. There are other facets to starting a windowsill garden, but for the most part, we’re just taking our suggestions from Beginner’s Tips for Your First Garden and modifying them for a windowsill garden.

Perfect Windowsill Plants

Of course, a final consideration you need to make for any windowsill garden is what to grow there, because not every plant lends itself to this particular type of garden. You won’t see many people trying to grow a corn stalk out of their southern-facing window. It’s important to find plants that work well in the environment that a windowsill planter allows.

Herbs

For a windowsill garden, herbs are a really useful and available plant to start with. Unlike some vegetables, herbs can adapt to different amounts of light, grow well in containers, and are fairly robust, so they’re not as finicky with the amount of care you can give. Herbs also grow quickly and are easy to use in the kitchen. There’s nothing quite like picking some fresh basil you grew yourself to season a dish to perfection.

Flowers

While you can’t really eat these, flowers are another great starting point for a windowsill garden. They are easy to transplant into soil and simple to maintain. Depending on the type of flower you choose, they may be pretty quick to grow, as well. What most flowers lack in edibility, they make up for in beauty.

Leafy Greens

Planting leafy greens — like lettuce, spinach or kale — is a great way to never run out of healthy ingredients for meals. Salad greens are easy to work with because they’re fairly robust and don’t require deep roots or much pollination. Just add the seeds to fertile soil, keep them watered, and watch your salad grow before your eyes.

Smaller Vegetables

This may be a bit tougher than the others, but it’s certainly possible to grow many popular vegetables in your windowsill garden. If you have a deep enough planter box, you can easily grow plants like cherry tomatoes, onions, carrots, and peppers. These alone are the start of a nice garden. You can also grow beans, radishes, garlic, and cauliflower, to name a few more.

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A windowsill garden can be an inventive way to bring some green into your home while giving you access to fresh herbs or vegetables. Even if you’re not eating what you’re growing, the plants can beautify a room while giving you all the mental benefits of gardening. When you consider how little time or commitment is required to maintain a windowsill garden, what’s there to lose?