Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Grow Vegetables In The Window

Lettuce. Two weeks old.
Growing plants, herbs and vegetables especially, in a window is quintessentially charming, but can it be done?  How much of a hassle is it to water, trim, turn etc?
Radishes planted the same day. See what I'm saying?

Take a lesson from NASA and start with the vegetables that are easiest to grow. Even seasoned gardeners have to relearn some things when they are growing in a new environment, so start with the can't-be-killed vegetables first:


Lettuce - NASA started with lettuce for it's Growing Vegetables In Space Program. Lettuce germinates in a day. You should have sprouts in 2-3 days. You can start harvesting the lettuce in about 3 weeks. The astronauts on the space station harvested theirs at 33 days. It wilts when it's thirsty, so you have some warning before it's dead. Of coarse, that's if everything goes right. If you don't...
have at least little, green sprouts on 10 days, dump the whole thing, including the soil, and start again. Wash the container if you are going to reuse that. Start with arugula (spicy) and red romaine. NASA started with Red Romaine.

Lettuce. One week old.

Radishes - Quit whining. Radish plants prime the pump. They get things going. We plant them as a first crop every time one of our beds has been fallow for a while. Additionally, you should be willing to eat the vegetables you grow, and you won't be farming black beans on the window sill. If you don't like radishes, it is because you have never had good ones. These will be good ones and you absolutely CAN NOT KILL radishes. Pink Beauty radishes have been the overall winner every time we have had several varieties.
Arugula. Planted the same day, same seeding thickness.

Herbs - Growing herbs indoors is tricky. Stick with basil and parsley. (Warning! Parsley can take a long time to germinate!) Soft, green leaves grow more quickly and require less sun than piney-looking plants like rosemary or lavender or silvery things like sage. Chives will co-operate for a while, but they are perennial and need a cold season to live indefinitely. Besides, pesto takes so much basil, it really can be considered a vegetable for our purposes. You can buy the parsley plants, but basil sometimes has trouble acclimatizing, and it's easy to grow from seed. Grow the basil from seed. You can harvest some of the seedlings as microgreens too.

Leftover onion and celery stumps - good luck with that. Stumps happen. Folks get them to grow.

Tomatoes - One of my earliest memories is the tomato plant, "Ruby," that had tomatoes at Christmas in our living room, before bush tomatoes had even been invented. The pot was a black, plastic nursery container, about a 2-gallon size. It can be done. Start with a smaller variety like cherry or pear shaped. Smaller tomatoes make smaller, more manageable plants.

Now the growing:
Let's assume you have started the seeds (lettuce, radish, arugula, basil) or gotten some plants (tomato, peppers, parsley.)
They need direct sunlight at least once a day. The sun has to hit the leaves directly.
Water them when they wilt. Don't over water the plants. This is far and away the most common mistake.
Turn them a quarter turn a day so the entire plant will get light and the stem will not lean to one side.

If you have questions, post them below and I will answer them! You got this!

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