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Windowbox salad greens, leafy herbs, & baby vegetables -- easiest container garden ever!

Updated on June 25, 2015

Such a great idea for so many reasons

Big advantages to growing salad greens in a windowbox: super convenient, practically no weeding, & most mistakes are easy fixes. No garden? Prefer herbs, sprouts, & salad greens small and tender? You can raise green leaves just the right size: not as big as traditional produce, but larger than microgreens or sprouts.

Ordinary window light is often enough for salad greens. In fact, heat and direct summer sun will inhibit growth and they tend to cause your mustard greens, spinach, and kale to seed up seed stalks instead of making leaves for you to eat.

If you can keep the container garden box indoors, you won't have to fight off the insects or other creatures who enjoy salad greens as much as you do.

Another advantage to growing greens in separate containers, is that you can mix and match. Pests tend to find crops which are grouped together; I well remember the time a little wormy thing drilled through the hearts of every single lima bean in my row garden. When you have two pots of spinach, you can move one away from the other, with maybe some fennel or dill as a screen in between them. Takes companion planting to a whole new level!

Small leaves are tender & easy to prep too

Mustard greens are nice in salad or added to a stir fry.
Mustard greens are nice in salad or added to a stir fry.

Handy!


Greens and leafy herbs like kale, spinach, collards, mustard greens, lettuce, cress, abd basil are perfect for this method. Vegetables which have tender tasty leaves and stems, like radishes and beets, are also a good choice. Parsley and cilantro can be right on a kitchen counter near a sunny window, or on your deck or patio, just out the back door. Fresh-pick your own spring mix by bringing a bowl to the mini-garden to get a few baby leaves of arugala or sorrel. Maintenance is a snap - just water the windowbox garden as needed, and replant new seed as you harvest, filling any empty spots.


Baby leaves will grow in almost anything which holds potting soil. Windowboxes look nice, but you can use a food storage box, a plastic bowl, or whatever's at hand. Your container needs to be at least four inches deep and it should have drainage holes drilled into it. A drip tray or absorbant pad under the container is a good idea if the surface where your mini-garden sits shouldn't get wet.

Mix it up

It's fun to come up with new salad mix ideas.
It's fun to come up with new salad mix ideas.

Practically no weeding


In a windowbox, it isn't necessary to create furrows for the seeds. In a regular garden bed, furrows are used to make seeding easier. While an occasional weed seed does creep in with the ones you intentionally planted in the container, it's not hard to find the sneaky plant.

*Cue Seasme Street music* "One of these things is not like the others / One of these things is not the same. . ."

Handily, no need for furrows means you can fit more produce in the container. It's more efficient to scatter the seeds evenly over the surface of the soil.

Keep it going

Harvesting the larger leaves makes room for smaller plants to grow. Scatter seed on bare spots and add a little potting mix over them, then water lightly.
Harvesting the larger leaves makes room for smaller plants to grow. Scatter seed on bare spots and add a little potting mix over them, then water lightly.

Small adjustments turn a fail into a success



Most greens need the right balance of water, adequate warmth and sunlight to germinate and grow, but temperatures cool enough that plants don't "bolt" (become tall, stemmy, dry, ready to drop seed). If your current crop isn't flourishing, you've only used a tenth of your seed packet in the container. Replant a new crop, and try moving the windowbox or Tupperware bin or planter to a new spot. If the issue isn't too much sun, then try adding more drain holes or keep beter tabs on your watering schedule. You'll figure it out! When the plants are happy and grow like crazy, you will have the knack and can repeat the steps to success every time.

Spinach do-over

The first planting of spinach got a little hot and dry. Time to compost the small yellowish leaves and re-seed the windowbox, which will go in a shadier spot. Twice a day watering from now on.
The first planting of spinach got a little hot and dry. Time to compost the small yellowish leaves and re-seed the windowbox, which will go in a shadier spot. Twice a day watering from now on.

Re-plant with a favorite, or rotate crops

This cress is all the same size, so it all gets harvested to make room for more of the same. Or maybe radishes or arugala this time for a change.
This cress is all the same size, so it all gets harvested to make room for more of the same. Or maybe radishes or arugala this time for a change.

Keeping the seeds where you want 'em

Use a plastic pot as a filter when watering.
Use a plastic pot as a filter when watering.
 Allowing water to seep into the soil keeps seeds from washing away to the edges of container.
Allowing water to seep into the soil keeps seeds from washing away to the edges of container.

Just a quick rinse in the colander & I'll have lunch!

Cress, collard & mustard greens from three windowboxes on my deck.
Cress, collard & mustard greens from three windowboxes on my deck.

Future salad!

Next crop of cress is sprouting in less than a week since the last plants were harvested.
Next crop of cress is sprouting in less than a week since the last plants were harvested.

Thanks for reading this!

Whether you have been growing windowsill herbs for many years, tending an acre truck garden on a back lot for the last two years, or you just bought your first packet of seeds, it helps to see the real-life experiences of others. In these green living / permaculture / gardening posts, I'm sharing my successes, near-successes, utter failures, and experiments with do-overs in the hope that we can do online what a community garden plot does for people who are neighbors in real life.

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