Window Farms: An Experiment In Urban Agriculture

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Temperatures outside are starting to drop and vegetables from the garden are likely dwindling down. Does that mean we have to give up on having homegrown vegetables and herbs available during the winter? Heck no!

There are many items that are easy to grow indoors. Why not extend summer’s harvest inside your home all winter using window farms?

Things to consider

Location is a huge consideration for your indoor window farm. You need to see which windows of your home have adequate light.  Windowsills are ideal but basements and garages will also work if you can add additional light and monitor the temperature. A good rule of (green) thumb – most vegetables and herbs that grow well indoors need a temperature between 65 and 85 degrees.

What should I grow?

Root vegetables are good to plant indoors but you need large containers to grow them.  Carrots, beets, onions, garlic, and potatoes are popular indoors. The easiest item to grow are herb plants such as basil, cilantro, rosemary and green onions (scallions).  You can also plant the key salad ingredients like small variety tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower.  Strawberries and lemons also grow indoors but you need prolonged light and warmer temperatures to grow them ideally.

What do I need?

Once you have decided where you are going to plant your indoor window farm and considered what you want to plant, you need to get your supplies. Planters are the most important thing for you to purchase. You need to make sure they are the right size for the item(s) you want to grow. For example root veggies need tall planters whereas herbs can be grown in more compact planters.

  • Soil is important so be sure to check out what kind of soil your plants need. You can research what kind of soil a particular item you are growing needs but generally speaking – vegetables and herb need a neutral pH which is common for potting soil. When shopping for potting soil, make sure it has vermiculite or perlite which helps balance the moisture in the soil. Soil used for herbs should not have vermiculite because it does not protect the herbs properly from withering if not watered properly.
  • Lighting and temperature are important and may change as the season progresses. You can get inexpensive grow lights to supplement natural light. Simple smaller lights run around $10 whereas sophisticated lights can reach $100 or more. Be sure to carefully position your light so that it is not too close to your plants. We’re not looking for seared spinach here folks.

If you plan to rotate or plant more items in the pots after your first harvest you will also want to invest in organic fertilizer.   As your first harvest matures, it will deplete the soil nutrients. A good organic fertilizer will get things back up to speed.

Grab some planters and dirt and get started window farming. When there is a fresh layer of snow outside you will not regret having fresh food that is only a few steps away.

Feeling generous?  Here is an interesting kickstarter campaign surrounding window farms.  Like this article, check out Urban Farming: 10 Crops You Can Grow At Home.

Feature image courtesy of spinster cardigan

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Leigh Garofalow

Leigh Garofalow is a self described 'born environmentalist' who won a recycling poster contest in 3rd grade and has been green ever since. She is a mother of two children under the age of 6 who think taking a cloth napkin and their own utensils to school is normal. She loves writing about anything related to health, wellness, and the environment. One day she hopes to make every up-cycled item and recipe she pinned on Pinterest!