Grow Your Dream Garden...In A Window

Photo: Kate Mereand-Sinha/FlickrForget a few pots of herbs on a windowsill. The modern window garden is a work of art and genius, a masterpiece of food production in a cramped space that allows you to grow an amazing amount of food even if you don't have a lot of room. You don't need a deep bay window, or a porch, or a spacious fire escape, let alone a sweeping garden courtesy of an Orlando landscaping crew, to grow tons of food and culinary herbs right in your window, as long as you've got a South-facing window and a love of plants!

People have been producing things to eat in their windows for centuries, and with good reason. Window gardens are perfect for people with limited room or fragile plants that won't do well outdoors. You can set up individual pots or long planters in windows for flowers, herbs, and veggies, maintaining them with your own kitchen compost to keep up the cycle of life in your very own house.

But an increasing number of gardeners are starting to go vertical with their window gardens, which takes things to a whole new level (literally). Imagine growing stacks of plants, filling up your entire window with a wall of green including veggies, flowers, herbs, and maybe even a dwarf fruit tree! Your window garden could become a source not just of nutrition, but also privacy; that street-facing window with all the great natural light that looks right into your living room could become a living screen.

Don't have soil? Go hydroponic with a vertical garden that's easy to make and set up. Not enough natural light for your garden to thrive? Pick up a grow light to give your plants the boost they need to be healthy and happy even in dim conditions. Feeling ambitious? How about a rack of planters that swings out to take advantage of fair weather?

The new window gardens are serious business, and here's the good news: they're ideally suited to the DIY tradition and aesthetic. Most can be made with components you can thrift or find inexpensively at a hardware store, and you can assemble them yourself even without a lot of skill. For those who aren't feeling confident, there's always a handyman -- or a window garden kit that takes the difficulty level down a notch or two.

What grows best in window gardens? It depends on the soil medium, light levels, and were you are. Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, and spinach are often great starter plants because they're easy growers. You might also give beans a try, although watch out, because some beans like to clamber. Carrots, beets, and other root vegetables are fun, although they may need more room to grow. Herbs, of course, are always a safe bet, and they can be a great choice as a starter plant because you'll find yourself putting them to use almost immediately.

Katie Marks writes for

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