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Growing Vegetables in the Window Box – a Full Guide

Introduction to growing vegetables in the Window box

Window boxes are attached to the windows to grow ornamental plants to improve curb appeal. You can install them at the kitchen window to grow vegetables. You can even keep them indoors on kitchen windowsill or place on the parapet or the floor of your balcony or rooftop.

A step by step guide to growing window box vegetables

Growing vegetable plants in a Window box mean apartment dwellers and yard-less folks no longer have to feel left out of the gardening.

Size of the window box for growing vegetables

The height of the Window box must not be more than 20-25 percent of the height of the window. To grow vegetables successfully, your Window box must be 8 inches deep and 6 inches wide, at least. 10-12 inches depth is ideal for most plants. When it comes to length, it must be equal to the length of your window, neither too short nor too large. Choose the largest Window box you can, as vegetables will need room to grow. We recommend that you use Window boxes with drainage holes to keep the soil well-drained and prevent root rot.

Perfect window box to hang them for growing vegetables

For your Window box vegetable garden, your kitchen window should receive sunlight. Minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight and day-long bright indirect sunlight is alright for many partial shade herbs and greens. However, the more, the better–Ideally, 6 hours of sunshine or more is what you need for most of the edible plants. If the kitchen window is shady, either grow shade-tolerant vegetables or identify other windows in your home.

Conditions for growing vegetables in the window box garden

Conditions for growing vegetables in the window box.
Conditions for growing vegetables in the window box.

Here are considerations to keep in mind for Window box vegetable garden;

First, consider the weight and durability of the Window box. Plastic or fiberglass Window boxes weigh less than wood or stoneware, but the former become brittle when exposed to sun or freezing temperatures. Choose the correct size planter and Window boxes that properly fit the window have the most curb appeal.

Choose a box that is at least as wide as the window or slightly wider. A 6-inch deep box is fine for shallow-rooted plants but install a 12-inch deep box for growing root crops, tomatoes, and peppers. Attach the Window boxes securely with brackets and choose brackets that hold the box slightly out of the building. This not only protects the building’s exterior from water damage and stains but allows air to circulate behind the box.

Use organic potting soil for growing vegetables in the window box

Mix some mulch in there while you’re at it. Since your vegetables will be growing in a smaller container rather than in the ground (where they can spread and find vital nutrients), they must have access to the right nutrients to grow. Also, picking a soil without pesticides and fillers in it is important with an edible crop.

Plan for proper spacing

Especially if you’re growing vegetables from seed, be sure to check how much room the plant will need and space accordingly. For example, carrot seeds must be grown a ½ inch apart while radish seeds should be spaced about ¼ inches away from each other.

Consider sunlight needs

Your vegetable garden’s needs will vary depending on what you’re growing, so you have to consider the position of the Window box. For instance, for east-facing windows (which get about a half day’s sun), consider growing root vegetables such as carrots, radishes, and beets. Leafy lettuces need less light, so they can be placed in south-facing Window boxes.

Measure windows

Collect window measurements before you buy Window boxes. It is easy to find boxes in a whole range of sizes, and boxes that match window size are more aesthetically pleasing. Install hanging hardware before planting Window boxes, as it will be easier to make any necessary adjustments if they’re empty.

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Gardening tips for growing vegetables in the window box 

  • Use brackets that when they’re secured, actually push the box out away from the house so that water won’t become trapped between the Window box and house siding potentially damaging your home.
  • Window boxes can be made of traditional materials such as wood, iron, cement, and terra-cotta. Though, plastic Window boxes are becoming increasingly popular because they retain moisture better and they’re lighter. Lighter means cheaper and also easier to secure than the others.
  • Instead of securing outside Window boxes so they sit even with the window sill, and adjust them to sit lower by a few inches. Then, this will give upright plants room to spread without necessarily (depending on the vegetable) blocking the view from inside the house, and keeping the boxes lower is important if your windows open outward.
  • Be sure that the Window box is by a window that you can obtain easily for watering and general care. Like other containers, fill them with light potting soil, not a garden or topsoil.
  • Window box plants are selected in the same way plants are chosen for any container. Plant together vegetables that have the same watering requirements and the same desired amount of sun exposure.
  • Use high-quality potting soil for plants. The plant roots won’t be able to reach deeply into the soil to search for nutrients as they would if you grew them in your garden. Because of this, you’ll want to give them all the help they can get by starting them off with quality potting soil, and compost mixed in if you have it.
  • In addition to giving them the best potting soil you can find, you’ll need to fertilize Window box vegetables to boost their health and vigor. Hang Window box from a south-facing window, if you have one. If not, any window will do, the others just could not get as lighter.
  • You can put new seeds in their place and keep the mini garden going all season long. Carefully examine plant and seed labels to ensure the variety you choose will be able to fit in the Window box.

Material for a growing window box vegetables  

A Window box is fixed along with an accessible window for comfortable care and maintenance of plants growing in it. It is installed under a window, affixed by brackets below. A Window box can be made of wood, metal, fiberglass, vinyl, and cellular PVC, with wood being a popular material of choice. A classical wooden Window box may last up to 10 to 15 years with proper painting and maintenance. Fiberglass is lightweight and insect-proof; Vinyl and cellular PVC are plastics which are rot-proof.

Types of vegetables for Window boxes

Many vegetable plants are suitable for growing in a container and will produce big yields from a small Window box. Plant choices will mainly depend on the depth of the Window box;

6-inch Deep Window box – A 6-inch deep container can support shallow-rooted plants such as Asian greens, bush beans, garlic, kohlrabi, radishes, leaf lettuce, green onions, peas, spinach, and Swiss chard.

12-inch Deep Window box – Window boxes that are about 12-inches deep can grow beets, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, and almost any other type of vegetable plant.

The process of growing window box vegetables

Step 1) Most potting soil must be soaked before use. If it isn’t soaked, the airiness of it will cause floating seeds and seedlings in Window boxes every time it’s watered. If the soil you’re using doesn’t say anything about moisture lock or long-lasting moisture, you’ll want to do this extra step. Simply pour the potting soil into a bucket and slowly add water to it, mixing all the while until the potting soil is saturated.

Step 2) Spread the potting soil into the Window box evenly, and adding in a couple of handfuls of compost if you have it. Then, tap the box on a table a few times to settle the soil. Fill the box almost to the top, leaving a ¼ of an inch.

Step 3) Read the sowing directions for your vegetable seeds. Spacing is important in a Window box, as there isn’t much of it. Then, each seed will need to be about an inch from the edges of the box to accommodate growth. If you plan on planting a few types of plants in one box, you’ll want to plan accordingly and measure out where each seed should go. Window boxes can be artfully designed and look quite beautiful outside home, so if beauty is an important matter to you, now is the time to plan accordingly.

Step 4) Once your vegetable seeds are planted, give them a good drink of water, and then you get to sit around for a while, twiddling your thumbs and waiting for something to happen. During this time make sure to keep the soil is moist but not soggy. Before you know it, little plant seedlings will be popping out of the soil and reaching for the sky. Thin out the seedlings according to the seed packet by snipping the weaklings with scissors.

Step 5) Now all you need to do is monitor the growth and keep watering those growing little plants. Fertilize them as needed according to packaging, generally, after the first true leaves have matured.

List of vegetables that grow best in window boxes

Which types of plants you choose to grow in your window planter vegetable garden will determine the productivity of your mini garden. You can make the most of limited gardening space by cultivating multiple crops of microgreens. Or you can set sights on tasty homegrown tomatoes. Dwarf tomato varieties are well suited for containers. You must look for vegetables that provide more harvest and take less space. One more factor apart from the size that matters is root growth–Shallow root vegetable plants are great contenders. Here, the list of vegetables suited for Window box garden;

Lettuce – With its shallow roots and quick growing nature, lettuce plant makes for a top contender for Window boxes. Lettuce is a good option for a vegetable growing Window box. It is a vegetable with shallow roots. Lettuce plant grows quickly and can be reseeded several times. Leaf varieties such as Ruby and Salad Bowl lettuce are a better option than head lettuce as the plant leaves will intertwine and not be restricted by spacing.

Spinach – A small box is all you need to grow spinach right by the kitchen window or also in a balcony. Petunias, marigolds, and parsley are great for spinach companion plants. It is one of the best Window box vegetable plants.

Bush Beans Bush beans can be a great addition to the Window box and grow best in the balcony, patio, and terrace in pots. Then, their ease of growing nature makes them perfect for novice gardeners.

Radish – When it comes to fast-growing Window box vegetables, radish tops the list. Cover the radish seeds with about 1/4 inch of soil. Pat the soil to firm it over the seeds, and then water gently. Set the planted Window box in a warm, sunny spot and keep the potting soil evenly moist to encourage the seeds to sprout (About 3 to 5 days for the radishes and a week or two for the carrots).

Green Onions – Green onions can grow in partial shade easily, which makes them a perfect edible for an indoor kitchen windowsill. Then, this way, you can grow them year-round.

Carrots – Sweet and crunchy carrots are loaded with antioxidants and essential nutrients. Nantes and Danvers are some of the best carrot varieties to grow in Window boxes.

Garlic – Garlic greens can be grown in pots, even indoors as well. You can add fresh greens in a variety of food.

Cherry Tomatoes – While you can grow determinate tomato varieties, cherry tomatoes are best for this purpose.

Pepper – You can grow the sweet and dwarf hot peppers as they won’t grow big and sprawl to overcrowd the Window boxes. Peppers do extremely well in Window boxes located in high sun environments. Darker boxes must be used to absorb heat and sun, keeping the soil at a higher temperature, which is conducive to better pepper growth. Most pepper plants will do well in Window boxes such as Sweet Banana, Yolo Wonder, and Long Red Cayenne.

Salad Greens – Having your own ‘salad bar’ on a kitchen Window box, feet away from your hands will be great for an uninterrupted supply as nothing beats the taste of homegrown produce and the salad greens.

Asian Greens – Asian greens such as bokchoy, mizuna, and tatsoi are easy to grow and perfect for Window boxes.

Commonly asked questions about growing vegetables in the window box

You may also check this: Organic Terrace Gardening.

Questions about growing vegetables in the window box.
Questions about growing vegetables in the window box.
Do you need drainage holes in Window boxes?

A Window box must have drainage holes so vegetable plants do not sit in soggy soil. If the box does not come with holes, you will want to drill holes in the bottom before installation.

How do you keep a Window box from falling?

To stop your Window boxes falling off, always make sure they are secured. Metal brackets bolted to the wall can extend windowsills, as well as help to secure the containers. You could screw eyelets into the wall each side of the Window box, then tie in the Window box with some strong wire.

How do I keep my Window box from rotting?

Peat moss mixed with vermiculite or sand is a perfect choice from rotting. Do not use garden soil as this is far too heavy and will compact together, so preventing adequate drainage. Sit planter box on top of some bricks or pieces of wood to allow at least 2 inches of space for air circulation.

Should a Window box be wider than the window?

Match the width of the box to the width of the window. Use smaller boxes on smaller windows, and larger ones on larger windows. For windows with shutters, consider using a box wider than the window.

How do I keep my Window box from drying out?

The soil in Window boxes dries out quickly and to help retain moisture, mixes in a soil amendment when you first fill it.

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