Kitchen Gardening 101: Part I, Planning Your Windowbox

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So you want to grow some herbs for your kitchen garden. Now is the perfect time to start planning. There's still time to order seeds, gather your materials, and plot out your design.

Even though your project won't require a landscape architect, you should still put some thought into what you're going to grow. Your space is probably limited, as is your light and your schedule.

Here are a few questions to ask:• Do you have a window sill that gets at least 4 hours of sunlight each day? If not, you'll need to install grow lights.

• How big is your window sill? Are you planning to put it on the inside or the outside of the window? If on the outside it is relatively protected from urban annoyances like birds and trash? The size of the sill will obviously dictate how large of a box or pots you can use.

• What herbs do you want to grow? The most commonly used herbs in the kitchen are Basil, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro (Coriander), Dill, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, and Thyme. If you have a 24" windowsill to work with, plan on selecting about 5 different varieties to grow. Each plant will eventually need about 5 inches of space. Mint needs to be grown in its own container, otherwise it will take over the planter and the other plants will not thrive.

• Based on the herbs you will grow, decide which you'll grow from seed, and which from seedling. If you'd rather not start from seed, you can get any herb in seedling form, and it's best to get these from your local farmers' market, where herbs are grown in small batches for cooks like yourself. If you want to give growing from seed a try, it's time to get those seeds. Herbs that are easiest to grow from seed are Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, and Parsley.

In our next segment, we'll talk about starting from seed, and where to buy the materials you need to grow your own window box.

(photo via jacobpost)

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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.

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