Winter Window Gardening

Don’t leave your garden out in the cold! Take it in with you for the winter! If you have south and east-facing windows and some fairly large pots, you can raise a surprising amount of greens for cold-weather salads. Not all plants, lettuce for one, will do well in winter’s reduced light, but some will. A little experimenting will help you find them.

One of the easiest plants to grow on a winter window sill is chicory. Before freeze up, dig the fleshy roots of first-year plants, cut the tops, reserving the greens for salad, and plant in deep pots. Water and place on your window sill or nearby table or plant stand. Chicory will tolerate its roots trimmed to fit the pot and still produce greens. Save any root trimmings and broken pieces to chop, dry, grind, and roast for coffee.

You can plant endive, the broad-leaved Batavian kind, from seed directly into pots of dirt or deep flats. They will take a bit more time to produce salad leaves than the chicory roots, but their lettuce-like leaves are well worth waiting for. Besides, you can start them at any time.

If you have cutting celery or parsley in your garden, you can simply pot up some plants, trim the tops, again reserving the trimmings for salad, and place on your window sill. They tolerate winter’s low-angled light very well and will add to  your salad all winter. The parsley will even make seed for you to plant in  next year’s garden. In the spring, divide the cutting celery and plant it out again to produce greens all summer. In late fall, bring it in.

Other plants you can try are chives, spinach, dandelions, dill or herb seed you have on hand.

You can seed wheat or barley in pots for greens for your cats. Or snip them while young and tender into a salad for yourself.

Some problems you might encounter are house cats sunning themselves on your new plants, flattening them in the process. You can create a cover made of chicken wire or something sturdy to keep them off. Other pests are aphids that come in with the plants from the garden. Try a spray made of chopped garlic or onions in water. And later in winter when the lady bugs come out of the woodwork, make sure they find their way to your plants. They’ll eat a surprising number of aphids.

The benefits of your window garden go beyond nutrition. The bright green not only colors your supper plate, it beckons cheerfully through the window as you go about your winter chores, a splash of green in a sea of white. What better way to cure the winter blues! And once again you have raised your own food and not depended on huge, profit-seeking corporations to do it for you.

So, go find some pots, dig some soil, mix in some worm castings, get out your leftover seeds, and be prepared to do some window gardening!

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2 responses to “Winter Window Gardening

  1. What if I didn’t get around to digging up garden plants before they froze? Can I start endive and chicory in my window from seed?

  2. Karen Blumhagen

    Yes, you can. The plants get a bit leggy at first but do get down to the business of making nice salad leaves, especially the endive. It’s worth the effort.

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