Starting a Windowsill Garden

Darin Engh, from Engh Gardens, walks us through how to create a customized windowsill garden.

Sunlight is the most critical factor a gardener has to consider: it’s the one feature that plants cannot live without, and the one you cannot control. All plants need sunlight for survival, it’s particularly important for vegetables; some of the most popular types need a minimum of six hours per day in order to produce their bounty. Generally speaking, if a plant makes a flower before it makes the part we eat (such as tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplant, and all fruits), it needs at least six hours. If the part we east is a leaf (lettuce, spinach, chard, kale), or grows underground (scallions, radishes, etc.), it can get by with three to four hours of sunlight. Your first task is to assess the sunlight quotient of your window gardening space. Start with the direction that your window faces. Take note of nearby obstruction that might cast a shadow and interfere with sunlight.

• Southern exposures receive the longest period of strong sunlight.

• Western exposures are next (“afternoon sun”).

• Eastern exposures are next (with “morning sun”).

• Northern exposures receive the least amount of sun.

Windowsill Herb Garden

A pretty window garden filled with favorite herbs is a sight guaranteed to warm the heart of everyone who loves to cook. Start with a narrow planter box, as close to the width of your windowsill as you can find. Choose a window with southern or western exposure; if it’s your kitchen window, so much the better. Check the planter for drainage holes and drill some if needed, then add a tray to protect the windowsill. Fill with potting mix, stir some granular fertilizer, and plant your favorite herbs. As they grow, try to keep the leaves away from direct contact with the window glass, which may get too hot in summer and too cool at night. Recommended plants: chives, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, chervil, and Fernleaf dill.

Weekend Project: The Impatient Salad Box

Here’s one for the itchy fingered. Sow these fast growing crops in a window box for the earliest harvest possible.


1 window box with drainage holes

Multipurpose compost

Radish seed

Rocket Arugula seed

Mixed lettuce seed

Fill window box almost to the top with compost. Roughly dividing the box into three portions, thinly sprinkle the radish, arugula and lettuce seed onto the compost. Cover with a thin layer of compost, water well and place in a sunny, sheltered windowsill. Keep moist.

A Spring Promise

Spring is the time when the garden explodes into a riot of fresh, bright colors, a moment captured beautifully in this vibrant display, which holds the promise of hot summer days to come.

Create a spring display with hyacinths, tulips, primrose, and cyclamen.

To learn more, or to get supplies for your own windowsill garden or starts for your vegetable garden, you can contact Darin at Engh Gardens in Sandy or online at

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