Whether you are a student in college or a person who loves to find new ways to pinch that penny, windowsill gardening is a perfect way to save big bucks on food. Let's face it, running to the supermarket to get fresh veggies or herbs can cost you in time and money. With herbs being pricey and barely lasting a day in the fridge, growing your own inside can save you the headaches. If you love salads, you can grow your own veggies and not only save money, but know how well they were taken care of. This is a great way to have peace of mind that you aren't eating a ton of toxins or getting bacteria laden produce from a market, and best of all, that organic price tag didn't hurt your wallet.
Not everyone has a big plot of land they can till and grow food on, but nearly everyone has a windowsill. The idea does not demand an actual windowsill, but a place to grow plants that has adequate growing light. This could mean a planting tray set atop your refrigerator with a grow light mounted above it or a shelf rigged to house plants in front of a window or with grow lights. There's always the option of hanging plants from the ceiling or wall mounted brackets near a bright sunny window. Keep in mind you may need grow lights to supplement light when the days get short in the winter. However you decide to set up your indoor windowsill garden, there are some things you need to remember in order to ensure success.
Of course, the optimal spot is by a window that gets plenty of sunlight, but not so much heat that it fries every living thing that comes near it. You can adjust the amount of light hitting your plants during the day by adding mini-blinds or thin curtains that still let a fair amount of light through but keep the heat to a minimum during the hottest part of the day. A window can turn into a magnifying glass of sorts when the sun hits it in just the right way, but most adequately watered plants don't mind. So, choose your site wisely.
Getting started is very easy. Purchase adequate pots or trays that have room for a good amount of root growth in them. Let's face it, in the ground a plant can spread it's roots out or go deep with them. However the plant likes to grow, you need to accommodate that. For instance, a tomato will not be as happy in a shallow, broad pot, but would do well in a deep pot that allows the roots to spread out. Lettuce is a plant that needs room to spread out but does not need all that much depth. Do some research on the growth of the plants you are planning on putting in your windowsill to ensure you have perfect success.
Keep in mind the soil. It is important to buy a lighter soil that is rich in nutrients. Compost is a great thing to add to the potting soil you choose. The organic matter in the soil will be used by the plants to keep them healthy and give them what they need to survive. Of course, you can and should feed the plants you choose because they are not getting any nutrients other than what is in the pot at any given time.
Water will be either the best or the worst thing for your little mini-garden. If you don't allow for any way for the water to drain in the bottom of the pot, the roots will stay too wet and basically rot. It's important to either place rocks in the bottom of a tray type pot to allow for drainage, or go ahead and get a pot that has holes in the bottom for drainage. Most pots have a bottom tray and holes in the main compartment of the pot to allow excess water to drain out.
Learn about the plants you want to grow, and don't over or under water them. If they like cool weather, they may be able to take considerably more water than summer plants. All plants need to be watered at least once a week in an outdoor garden; however, in your house you have to take into consideration the amount of humidity that you have and how hot the window is. Evaporation could have you watering every day. You may end up watering more often in the winter, and the windowsill may not be the best location for your plants at night if they are warm weather plants. The cold air that comes in through the window may stunt the plant and cause it to think the growing season is over.
Your mini-garden in your windowsill can and will bring life to that dorm room, small apartment or to the avid gardener who can't wait until they can sink their hands into the warm summer soil again. For whatever reason you are growing your own food in your house, you will save money and have fresh food on hand whenever you need it for that that fresh garden gazpacho soup or to have fresh herbs on demand. So, even if the lights go out this winter, you will have a fresh salad to eat in an emergency. The benefits are many, and the rewards are priceless. So, get busy and start your own windowsill garden.
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