by Carol Siddall, Master Gardener
This time of year is hard for gardeners in all stages of experience. The desire to go outside is there, but the cold says stay inside. A good option for keeping your green thumbs busy, have a windowsill garden. A sunny windowsill is all you need to bring microgreens or fresh herbs to your table.
First thing, choose where you will put them. It is best to not have them near a heater vent, but they will need 5 to 6 hours of sunlight a day. While temperature needs vary from one plant to the next, you will need to try and keep it in the 70 to 75 degree range. Select your pots making sure they have drainage holes. If you don't plan to use a tray, make sure you have waterproof saucers. Have potting soil in your pots, then plant your seeds and/or plants. Your potting mix should be a commercial seed starting mix or potting soil, or a combination of the two. Try to avoid garden soil as it is too heavy and may contain disease organisms.
If you plant lettuce seeds for microgreens, barely cover them with soil. Use a pan you probably already have in your kitchen for these. You will see plants coming up within a week, and some can even be harvested within a week. These are good on sandwiches and in salads.
If you want herbs, try these: sage, rosemary, mint, parsley, basil, dill, or chives. Start them from seed or purchase small plants. Know what condition each herb prefers so you don't have an herb that prefers warmth next to one that likes it cooler. Water them to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Fertilize at least once a month with a half-strength solution of an all purpose fertilizer. Turn a quarter turn once a week so your plant doesn't get misshapen.
You can also use pretty, small bottles or vases to root house plants such as Angelwing Begonia, Hoya, Wandering Jew, Coleus, Christmas Cactus, and Air plants. When they have good roots on them, you can transplant them to a pot filled with good potting mix. Remember these roots are more fragile when they have been grown in water. After planting, keep the potting mix moist to avoid shocking the plants. Come summer you can transplant them outside to your garden.
I usually have several plants rooting on my kitchen windowsill. It helps you remember Spring is coming, and nothing tastes better then fresh greens or pinched herbs in your recipes. If you have questions please call the AgriLife offices at 432-498-4071 (Ector) or 432-696-4700 (Midland).