Friday, March 16, 2012

Windowsill Garden: March Update

We started our windowsill garden back in January, and I last updated you about a month ago. 

Toward the end of February, we moved everything to a wire shelving unit with some grow bulbs we had set up for seed starting. I suppose this defeats the purpose of a windowsill garden, but I honestly didn’t see a huge difference between growth when we provided a UV bulb on the windowsill, and growth strictly under grow lights.  I've since moved most of the plants back to the windowsill, as the days get longer and the sun gets stronger.

I’m not sure our windowsill is sunny enough for starting plants in winter – with short days and weak sun. In the future, we’ll hopefully be working with some older plants, and we won’t be trying to start young, needy plants during the shortest, coldest days of the year.  If you’re planning to start a windowsill garden, I wouldn’t advise starting in January!

Our spider plant, for example, did great on the windowsill and put off a few more flowering stalks with baby spider plants on the end. So, I think a more mature plant would survive the shortest winter days, even if it didn’t do a ton of growing, but a young plant just can’t quite get moving in the weak sun. 

Here’s how the individual plants are doing:

The parsley is still thriving:
The cilantro and chives have started to germinate. We planted new cilantro seeds (from a new packet), and these ones are looking better than the last. I put a little soil over the chive seeds, and it seems to help germination (the packet said to sow them on top of the soil, which did not work). 
The tom thumb lettuce sprouted after I planted some new seeds, went wild, and I trimmed them back. They grew very scraggly, and I’m not sure what I need to do to get them to grow more compactly. It’s an issue I’ll be working on in our outdoor container garden. It also looks like something might be eating the lettuce leaves (although that might also be decay from sitting in the dirt).
The microgreens and other sprouts continued to do about the same – I harvested some of them, and the rest are doing fine. We’ll be eating the last of these soon; I don’t plan to include sprouts in the outdoor garden.
Our swiss chard is really starting to look good. Although still tiny, it has begun to produce more leaves on a regular basis. The plants are only a few inches tall, probably because of the small pot they are in (a 6 inch pot). I’m considering just transplanting it outside in a larger pot, rather than starting over, but I need to do a bit more research (it might just bolt more quickly).

So what did we learn from this experience? Next week, I’ll talk about our lessons from windowsill gardening. Most importantly, I learned that I don’t have a black thumb, as previously thought – I’m just not sure that I have a green thumb yet either!

Soon, I’m going to focus a lot on our garden plans for the spring and summer. With the super warm weather we’ve been having, I might be starting things outdoors a month sooner than anticipated! I’ll discuss our containers, space, seeds, soil, budget, and progress so far. Look for those posts the week of March 26th

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