Urban Farming: Windowsill Vegetable Edition

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Urban Farming: Windowsill

Growing vegetables on your windowsill can be a great way to bring fresh produce into your home. With a little bit of patience and care, you can grow a variety of vegetables right in your own home. This article will detail which vegetables are best grown indoors and offer some tips for successful window gardening. You should be able to comfortably start experimenting with urban farming and growing some of your own food.

First, let’s talk about which vegetables are best suited for indoor growing. Some vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, require a lot of space and sunlight, so they may not be ideal for a windowsill garden unless you were willing to invest in a grow light. However, there are plenty of vegetables that are well-suited for indoor growing, including herbs (such as my basil and cilantro plants), leafy greens, and root vegetables.

Herbs are perhaps the easiest vegetables to grow on a windowsill. They don’t require a lot of space and can thrive in relatively low light conditions. Popular herbs for indoor growing include basil, parsley, cilantro, and mint. Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale are also good options for windowsill gardening. These vegetables don’t require much light and can be harvested multiple times, making them great for small spaces. Finally, root vegetables like radishes can also be grown, just use a container deep enough for their roots.

I’ve also had the most luck with my windowsill vegetable plants that are dwarf varieties, such as Tom Thumb Peas (Seeds can be found here). While their yield is on the lower side (~12 pea pods a season) the effort and maintenance that it takes indoors is far more sustainable than the larger plants, where you would likely have to acquire and rotate a grow light. Interestingly, you can find a lot of hybrid dwarf French vegetable varieties hailing from the 18th century, so I would assume that urban farming must have been in vogue at the time. Every single one of my dward varieties of seeds have a French origin.

Tips For Your Windowsill Garden

  1. Choose the right container. Select a container that is at least 6 inches deep and has drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating. Make sure the container fits on your windowsill and provides enough room for your chosen vegetables to grow.
  2. Use the right soil. Choose a high-quality potting mix that is formulated for vegetable growth. It should be well-draining and rich in nutrients.
  3. Provide adequate light. Vegetables need sunlight to grow, so choose a sunny window that gets at least 6 hours per day. If your window doesn’t receive enough light, consider using a grow light to supplement natural light.
  4. Water regularly: Water your vegetables regularly, but don’t overwater them. Check the soil moisture level frequently and water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Be careful not to let the soil dry out completely, as this can damage your plants.
  5. Fertilize as needed. Depending on the type of vegetable you’re growing, you may need to fertilize your plants to ensure they get the nutrients they need. Look for a fertilizer that is formulated for vegetables and follow the package instructions carefully.
  6. Monitor for pests and disease. Keep an eye out for pests like aphids and spider mites, as well as signs of disease. If you notice any problems, address them immediately to prevent them from spreading.

Pest Control

Once you have the right supplies and plants, the biggest issue that I have faced with windowsill vegetable gardening is pests. Because your plants are inside, it can be incredibly difficult and demoralizing if your plants start attracting bugs. Not only do you not want bugs inside of your home, but the yield of windowsill plants tends to be low and so not very easily shared with insects and most chemicals should not be used indoors.

  1. Use companion planting: Certain plants, such as marigolds, can repel pests from your vegetable garden. Consider planting these alongside your vegetables.
  2. Keep the area clean: Regularly remove any fallen leaves or debris from the windowsill garden, as this can attract pests.
  3. Use insecticidal soap: Insecticidal soap can be an effective way to control pests like aphids and spider mites. Anecdotally, I have found aphids to be the most common indoor pest for vegetable gardens.
  4. Consider using organic pesticides: If you need to use a pesticide, choose an organic option that is safe for use around food. Neem oil, for example, can be effective against a range of pests and is safe for use on vegetables. Every few months, I wipe down all of my houseplants’ leaves in neem oil as a preventative measure, and I would recommend doing the same for any vegetable plants. It is far better to prevent an insect infestation than to try and resolve one.