By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
You don’t have to give up on the joys of gardening as soon as it turns cold outside. While your garden outside may be dormant, a winter windowsill garden teaming with life, will bring a smile to your face during those long, cold days. Growing plants in windowsills is a great family project that everyone will enjoy. Whether you pick a specific theme for your garden or plant a variety of herbs and vegetables, a winter windowsill garden is a practical and decorative solution to year-round gardening.
How to Grow a Window Box Veggie Garden
The shorter days of winter do not provide the required 6 to 8 hours of sun for vegetables, so you will need to use a supplemental light source that provides full UV spectrum light, in addition to placing your window box veggie garden in a southern or eastern facing window.
Edible plants for windowsill gardens include those that can tolerate some shade and do not require much humidity. Suitable foods to grow on a windowsill over winter include:
Choose a container that has drainage holes or spread a thin layer of fine gravel in the bottom of the container. Use only sterilized soilless potting mix when planting your veggies.
Locate your window box veggie garden where it will not be subject to a draft or the dry air from a heat vent, and keep your box evenly moist.
Since there are no bees indoors to pollinate growing plants in windowsills, you will have to hand pollinate the plants using a small paintbrush to transfer the pollen from one plant to another.
Growing a Window Box Herb Garden
Edible plants for windowsill gardens can also include herbs. There is nothing more aromatic or practical than growing your own herbs in a window box. Herbs that do well in a winter windowsill garden box may include any of the following:
It is so nice and convenient when you can snip a few fresh herbs from your indoor garden while cooking. Herbs can be grown in almost any type of container as long as it has drainage and is filled with rich soilless potting mix.
A southern exposure is best, but as with other foods to grow on a windowsill, a grow light can help make up for any lack in lighting.
Also, if your home is particularly dry, you may need to provide some humidity in the form of a tray with pebbles and water or by misting plants on a frequent basis.
Watch for insects that may find a home in your window box herb garden. A mixture of dish soap and water sprayed liberally on the plants should minimize most pest invasions.