What can you grow on a windowsill?
- Posted. 30 March 2021
- Tags. Family,
Windowsills and boxes full of colourful flowers and handy herbs are a staple ingredient of stylish urban living across the world. Think Paris, Madrid and Rome — but what about Warminster?
It’s true that the English climate runs a little cooler and wetter than the continent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep a slice of harvest-fresh sunshine inside your home.
Your windowsill is the perfect place for a micro-garden, with a collection of quick, easy mini-crops mixed in with hardier houseplants. However, putting one together is easier said than done! Many of us worry about killing our green darlings, or choosing the wrong plants to grow.
That’s where this article comes in. It’s our guide to putting together your ideal indoor garden. We’ll talk about foodplants, herbs and plant care.
Also, as you might expect, we have a few choice words on how the quality of your home’s windows can help your plants to survive and thrive. Read on, and we’ll take you through it!
What can you grow on your windowsill?
First thing’s first — you probably aren’t going to be churning out tonnes of produce. Most of the food plants we grow in the UK aren’t really designed to be grown indoors, where it’s dryer and warmer than they’re used to.
However, the things you will be able to grow – like herbs, small veg and pea shoots – can make brilliant additions to many everyday meals.
Basil, for instance, is a staple ingredient in almost all Italian cooking and is easily grown on a windowsill. Given enough space in its pot, the right watering regime (little and often) and regular feeds with a watered-down indoor plant-fertiliser of your choice, it can keep producing leaves for a fair few seasons.
You can even make cuttings with just a little bit of know-how — resulting in a theoretically infinite amount of basil!
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to produce giant, supermarket-sized heads of lettuce on a windowsill. Something you will be able to grow, however, are nutrient-packed “microgreens”, ready to eat just two to four weeks after sowing.
Simply sprinkle a few pinches of lettuce seeds into compost-filled pots, cover with a dusting of compost and water well. After a few days, you should start to see the first signs of growth. Continue to water well — lettuce will usually let you know when it’s feeling thirsty by visibly wilting.
Harvest any time from the moment your lettuce has reached between two and four inches in height. One thing you might notice on tucking in is the sweet taste of the leaves! Put simply, this is because your lettuce hasn’t got old enough yet to grow bitter and tough.
I’m sure a few of us know some younger people we could say the same thing about!
Radishes and Beetroots
Radishes are another super-quick salad crop you can grow on your windowsill. Simply sow seeds spaced two inches apart and cover with a generous dusting of compost. Kept well-watered, they should produce a single small, tart, pink radish in a month or so.
You can grow baby beetroots in much the same way. Beets generally grow in clusters, however, so you’ll have to perform some DIY natural selection by thinning them once the seedlings show leaves.
Remember, both radish and beetroot leaves are perfectly edible and can be delicious mixed into salads!
Interestingly, you can snip the bottom chunk (the root ends) of radishes off and replant them to quickly regrow another radish. You can repeat the trick with beetroot tops (not bottoms), though these will usually produce more greens rather than another root.
This doesn’t always work, but it can be a fun experiment to teach children about the resilience of nature!
Pea shoots are a great addition to stir fries, salads and sandwiches. They’re delicious and nutritious!
If you soak dried peas from the grocers or the supermarket in water overnight, sow them in an inch of compost, cover them with a generous dusting of compost and keep in a sunny spot, they’ll produce small but serviceable shoots within about a week. Simply cut the shoots at the base and use while fresh.
Replanted peas will crop a second time, though slightly less quickly. Make sure not to let your shoots grow too large, or the plants will become bitter — and better off planted outside!
How to make a windowsill herb garden
Herbs are the window gardener’s specialty. They’re useful for nearly every meal, last a long time, can often be easily propagated with cuttings and put out plenty of good-looking green foliage.
We discussed basil earlier, but the list doesn’t end there! You can easily grow chives, mint, parsley, dill, cress, rosemary, thyme and oregano. Imagine the fragrances!
It’s best to look up online how to look after individual herbs if you’re unsure of their precise care regimes, but you’re usually best starting with a sprinkling of seed or a few pre-rooted cuttings in a small-to-medium-sized pot. This will give them plenty of room to put down roots, especially once you thin out all but the best seedlings.
Can you plant out supermarket herbs?
You can usually plant out fresh supermarket herbs with no problems, but do remember to thin them out. Unlike you, supermarkets usually aren’t that interested in the long-term wellbeing of their plants!
As a general rule, keep moist and try not to overwater. If your plant begins to wilt, give a little more water, especially in high summer. Water a little less in winter and autumn, when the plant slows down due to lack of sunlight.
What are common ways to increase energy efficiency?
Generally, plants thrive indoors because they like the controlled conditions and consistent temperatures.
Unfortunately, if your windows aren’t well-fitted, lack double-glazing or have fogged up between the panes, they may not provide proper temperature control when it gets too cold or too hot. They may even fail to admit the light that your plants require!
If that’s the case, however, your plants may even be the least of your worries! Dodgy windows will also land you with high heating bills, unsightly peeling frames or obscured views of the great outdoors.
That’s where we come in. We’re always happy to talk about installing quality, affordable windows in and around Warminster and the West Country. Just give us a call!