Start Your Own Window Garden - Quicken Loans Zing BlogMost people like to use fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs in their food.  Growing your own fresh produce not only provides you and your family with naturally grown vegetables and fruits, but it also gives most people a sense of pride knowing where their food came from and that they grew it themselves.

However, not everyone has room at their house or apartment to grow a huge garden.  While you won’t be able to grow massive heirloom tomato plants or fruit trees, window gardens provide fresh herbs and salad greens.  Window gardens also take less effort to maintain, while still giving you the pride of a professional gardener.

Starting a window garden doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, either.  By recycling objects, you can save money instead of paying for pots from the store.  I love Fire Balls, and the ones I get come in the oversized Costco-style plastic jars.  After cutting the jars in half, I used both halves as pots to plant herbs.  You can also use old vases, cups, mason jars or two-liter bottle bottoms.  Really, the only thing that limits what you can plant in is your imagination.

You’re probably thinking about specific plants you’d like to grow.  Popular cooking herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, scallions, chives and dill grow well in small pots.  Lettuces and salad greens also grow wonderfully.  I’ve had a lot of success growing spinach in small pots.  Fast-growing and very forgiving, spinach is probably one of the easiest salad greens to work with.  If you aren’t a spinach fan, you can also plant arugula, pac choi (bok choy), romaine, mesclun mixes, swiss chard, kale, or almost any other kind of salad green.

Next, you have to decide whether you want to start your plants from seeds or buy pre-started plants from your local greenhouse.  If this is your first time gardening, I’d probably go with starter plants because you’ll be able to harvest your greens faster.  Starting from seeds takes more time and care initially.

Now that you have your plants picked out, it’s time to get started potting them.  Since you have relatively small pots and you want the plants to flourish, I’d recommend buying a high-quality bag of potting soil.  They usually run about $5-10 and can fertilize plants for several months.  I used the Miracle-Gro brand in my garden, and my plants have grown like crazy!

To properly pot your plants, make sure your pots have good drainage by putting holes at the bottom of the pots.  Letting your plants sit in excess water will hinder growth and even cause them to rot away.  To aid with drainage, also cover the bottom of the pots with small rocks.  To help keep excess water from going all over your house, you can set the pots in old pie tins, plates, or bowls.  Fill up the remaining portion of the pot with soil, plant your seeds or starter plants, water, and wait.  In a few weeks, you’ll harvest fresh herbs and lettuces!

To keep your lettuce and herbs going strong, be sure to read up on how to properly cut and harvest them.  If done correctly, your new window garden can provide fresh greens for months.  Not only does your new window garden provide edible produce, it’s also a nice decorative addition to your kitchen — especially during those gray winter months.  And, starting a window garden is a great activity to do with your kids.

Starting a window garden is an inexpensive way to provide fresh herbs and lettuce, a creative way to reuse objects around your house and save a little money — and it’s a fun family activity.

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