Gardening on Window Ledges

Moss garden

This is a moss garden, and it’s growing on my kitchen window ledge. In fact, there’s always something growing here because gets good light and it’s close to the sink (so I remember to water). And that’s gardening in a nutshell – give a plant enough light and water and you’re most of the way there.


I think window-ledge gardening is fun. I grow runner beans up mini twig towers just to watch the tendrils twirl and the leaves unfold, (it produced two French beans which no-one felt comfortable to eat – too attached, I’m guessing). I line up geranium cuttings to get the jump on spring, and I overwinter herbs for the same reason. These moss gardens are technically terrariums filled with gleanings scrapped from between the cobbles of the back laneway. Whatever you grow, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Be warned, they will remind you of the basic biology you probably thought you never needed to remember…


One: pick a container that has holes in the bottom. There’s a point to this. No hole means that the container will fill up when you water your plant which will do two things. Your plant will suffocate and its roots will rot. Oh and before that happens, nasty mold and fungus will probably take hold and disfigure it. A happy plant grows in soil where there are air pockets between the soil particles. When you water the plant, the air in these pockets mixes with the water and the plants’ roots take the opportunity to get on board what it needs. I make sure this happens by putting my pots-with-drainage-holes into the sink where I then water them and let them drain. When I next wander back into the kitchen, I spot them in the sink and this remind me to move them back to their funky saucers on the window ledge.

Two: take advice re growing media. This is a nice way to say, when someone suggests that you fill your pot with potting mix and not some tired old soil from a nearby dead pot plant, listen to them. Potting mix has those air pockets you want and the fancier ones have fertilizers mixed in. You can buy it anywhere and it’s easily stored in the bag it comes in. I keep mine under the kitchen sink. (You’ve probably started to realize that my kitchen sink doubles as my potting bench. What’s strange is that I don’t live in a flat three stories up.)

Three: consider the sunlight. Not every window is ideal for ledge-gardening. Mine works because it faces the sun all day BUT it enjoys a bit of protection from the leafy trees nearby. Finding your magic window may take some trial and error but you’ll work it out. Scorched foliage mean there’s too much light. Stretched out growth shows that there’s not enough.

Four: rotate and feed. It’s pretty obvious if you think about it. Turn your pots for even growth (the light’s coming from one side after all) and give things a little feed when you remember with a slow release or liquid fertilizer (sold everywhere).

Five: special terrarium instructions. Terrariums are semi-sealed systems, a bit like our planet earth. I made mine with some glass vases. Obviously they don’t have holes for drainage so when I tucked my mosses and weedy gravel into them, I gave them only a tiny bit of water before cleaning the glass and sealing them off with plastic kitchen wrap. You won’t need to water them as long as they stay wrapped. If they look too misty, you can leave them open for a day to dry off a little before re-sealing.


windowsill garden

Here are my two terrariums on the ledge. With just enough water added, they’re sealed with kitchen wrap and left to grow in their own mini climate.


paper bag garden

I came home from the garden center with a pot of tiny daffodils and another of pansies. The pots were their usual ugly selves – so I lined this paper sack with a plastic bag and tucked them in along with a daisy cutting.



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