How to Window Box: Small-Space Plants to Grow Indoors or Out (Clarkson Potter, 2018), by Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit teaches readers how to build the right window box to fit their individual needs. The window boxes vary from low water and light to high water and light. Grow a convenient window box full of lettuce for easy chopping or a box with detoxifying plants to clean the air they are in. This excerpt is located in, “The Salad Bar.”
The Salad Bar
Join the “Grow Your Own” movement by cultivating kale, lettuce, and other leafy greens outside your windows. Your salads and sandwiches will be better than ever, thanks to your homegrown produce. These veggies are also packed with good-for-you nutrients, including vitamins K, A, and B2, iron, zinc, dietary fiber, and calcium, and antioxidants like vitamin C. Hungry? Harvest the plants’ outer leaves, clipping in the morning when crops are at their crispest and most hydrated.
Location: Outdoors; USDA zones 2–11
Light: High to medium
Window: South-, west-, or east-facing
Soil: Premixed soil dedicated to growing veggies
Topping: Compost, plus a top layer of orchid bark
Feed: Vegetable fertilizer every 10 to 14 days
A. Lactuca sativa ‘Limestone Bibb’ (Bibb lettuce)
B. Lactuca sativa ‘Lollo Rossa Atsina’ (curly red leaf lettuce)
C. Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla var. flavescens ‘Bright Lights’ (rainbow chard)
D. Brassica oleracea (Tuscan kale)
E. Spinacia oleracea (spinach)
1. Make sure your box has good drainage. If not, drill drain holes along the bottom of the box. Insert a screen cut to the size of the box’s bottom to prevent soil from escaping or clogging the holes.
2. Mix the soil and add it in an even layer until your box is halfway to two-thirds full. Remove the plants from their containers and loosen tightly wound roots (often the case for young leafy greens sold in six-packs) with your fingers. Plant the greens 2–4 inches apart, pressing each plant gently into the soil.
3. Fill in the box with additional soil until the entire surface is level, and the bases of the plants are about 1 inch below the top of the planter. Feel free to gently adjust the plants until their bases line up across a smooth soil bed.
4. Top-dress with a final layer of compost and orchid bark.
TIP: Because this box requires constant watering, we created our own irrigation system, but you can easily purchase self-watering window boxes online.
Greens Are Good for You, So Return the Favor
Place the window box on a sunny south- or west-facing side of your home. These plants love the cooler weather of spring and fall. In milder climates, your greens can also be a delicious winter crop; the same goes for colder climates if a protective covering is used.
When the weather heats up, the plants will “bolt,” sending out flower stalks so the plant can go to seed. (You could try to delay this stage by providing your box with some shade from the summer sun.) Bolting leads to bitter leaves, so harvest your greens ASAP.
Don’t let your garden dry out! Maintain moist—but not waterlogged—soil.
Reprinted from How to Window Box: Small-Space Plants to Grow Indoors or Out. Copyright © 2018 by Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit. Photographs by Ryan Benoit. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.