Windowsill herb gardening gives most of the same benefits as regular indoor gardening and, if setup properly, is easy to maintain and use. It is a practical and convenient use of garden space.
There are many advantages to a windowsill herb garden. You get the flavorful aroma that is common to most herbs. You can take care of your garden regardless of the weather and a gardener can conveniently get just the herbs that are needed for cooking or medicinal purposes.
Remember, when you setup an windowsill herb garden, nature is no longer in charge of light, soil, water, nutrients and humidity. It is now the sole responsibility of the gardener. However, with enough information, herbs make it very easy and easy to maintain.
Let’s consider light. Natural sunlight is more concentrated and about 5 hours of good afternoon sunlight directly on the herbs will work. So pick a windowsill that has the most afternoon sunlight. However, supplemental light is often needed. You may add fluorescent or “grow lamps” and place them 18 inches away from your plants. Your plants will grow in the direction of light as it benefits them. If your plants grow well and they do not lean; your light is proper and balanced.
Herbs are fairly consistent in their soil requirements. While there are special circumstances; herbs do no not require fertilizer to grow well and be flavorful. Actually, herbs prefer soil that is a little bit alkaline. I use this formula. Get a container that has good drainage (for a windowsill herb garden I prefer clay) and put an inch of gravel in the bottom. Make soil mixture of one-half sterilized potting soil, one-fourth sand, and one-fourth vermiculite. To get the right balance, add one teaspoon of lime for every five inches of container size. Plant your seed by just barely covering it with your soil mixture. I will discuss the watering in the next paragraph.
Water is a basic component for all plant growth. For herbs, a seed needs lots of water for the roots to attach. At this time the soil must be moist. After the roots attach, just misting should be ok. Mist often but not so heavily that the roots get drenched or soggy as this will cause root rot or powdery mildew. If you have low humidity that keeps your soil dry; just place a small bowl of water next to your plant.
A windowsill herb garden is different from most indoor gardens in that an herb plant needs to be selected for its appropriateness on a windowsill. Some herbs, such as dill and fennel are just to large. However, with herbs, your selection is still considerable. Here a some:
Although herbs will grow in almost anything and almost anywhere; I prefer a clay container on a windowsill herb garden. A windowsill has the most extreme temperature variations of any indoor garden. Most herbs do not like frost and temperature variations can confuse the herbs as far as growth is concerned. Clay is not necessary but it helps warm the herbs in summer and insulate them in winter.
It is fairly easy to grow and maintain a windowsill herb garden. For proper nutrients you should perform a repotting and a light feeding of all your indoor plants. Mist them with water to keep them moist and check them for possible pests.
I cover pruning, pests, and preserving herbs in other articles. I also offer a free mini-course.
Until we meet again,