Fresh and Healthy Food Grown Right in Your Window
By Lisbeth Irish RDN CDN CDCES
Spring brings opportunities to get outside and be active. Experienced gardeners are planning their gardens now, and most of us envision gardens as “outdoor projects.” But don’t limit yourself based on that assumption.
Windowsill gardens are an excellent option for those who don't have access to a yard or outdoor space for gardening. Growing plants indoors connects us to nature, and it can make waiting for warmer weather a little easier.
Choosing What to Grow
If you're not sure what to grow, think about what you like to eat and how much room you have. There are options for every situation.
Herbs are a great choice for a windowsill garden. They are generally easy to grow and add so much flavor to our foods. If you need to reduce the sodium in your diet, herbs can substitute for added salt in many recipes.
What are your favorite herbs? Basil? Cilantro? Mint? Parsley? Basil is perfect for Italian dishes. Cilantro is delicious in Mexican and some Asian recipes. Mint added to tea or even plain water can create a refreshing beverage. Parsley can add color and flavor to soups, stews, potatoes, and so much more. Did you know parsley is an excellent source of Vitamin A?
Ready to give windowsill container gardening a try? Here’s a practical approach you can use to start your garden indoors.
You'll need just a few inexpensive supplies to get started:
Containers with drainage - Poke holes in a yogurt container or add some clean stones to the bottom of a container without holes. Make sure you put a small plate or a plastic lid under the container to protect your windowsill.
Potting Soil - A small bag will do. Don't use soil from a garden outside; it won't have all the nutrients your plant will need to grow healthy.
Seeds or seedlings - Seedlings (small plants) are a little easier to grow, but seeds may be less expensive. Both can be purchased by SNAP recipients at stores that accept SNAP EBT.
Light - Pick your sunniest window. If the windowsill area gets drafty or cold when the sun goes down, move your plants to a warmer place in the room.
Water - Water your plants when the soil dries out, but don't overwater as it may cause root rot.
Here are a pair of videos about planting seedlings. You’ll find helpful as you start your plants:
Before you know it, you'll be harvesting your herbs to add to your favorite dishes! Remember, the possibilities are endless.
Lisbeth Irish is a Registered Dietitian with the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA). She has over 25 years' experience working as a Registered Dietitian in a variety of settings and currently oversees the NYSOFA SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education program for older adults in New York State. This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For more information on how to save time, save money and eat healthy, visit www.snapedny.org