How to Create a Window Farm (Real Things Thursdays)

So… half of us are buried in snow but I know you have wonderful food and ornamental plant posts you wrote last season! Why not submit one to this month’s issue of How to Find Great Plants to help fuel our garden fever?

The deadline for this issue is midnight eastern time tomorrow (January 28, 2011).

It’s easy to participate, CLICK HERE!

Speaking of garden fever, I was thinking about how many of us crave greenhouses — or yards in some cases! Around 1:00pm today it finally got warm enough for me to drag the 12 seed trays (mostly brassicas) I started for spring onto the porch for some sun. In colder weather they perch on top of two aquariums, the fireplace hearth, the floor, and a small shelf in the foyer — it’s a challenge to find them enough space or light!

Then my mom showed me these cool window farms:

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

You can find a lot more information and DIY plans at Windowfarms.org.

I have enough outdoor growing space that I probably wouldn’t do this year-round. However, I’m excited about having basil, various greens, and maybe some currant tomatoes dangling from these contraptions during the winter. Also, it will fulfill my dream of feeling like I own my own evil scientist lair. I may leave some beakers and test tubes of colored water sitting around to complete the effect.

While I’ve eaten plenty of off-season hydroponic lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers from a local farm called Hurricane Creek, I’m not an expert on the technique. Even my frequent visits to our neighborhood hydroponics supply (The Green Thumb) are for odds and ends I need in my garden — I rarely buy anything for its intended indoor, soil-free purpose. Usually I’m there to get a planting tray, packets of seed, or emergency liquid fertilizer for a neglected plant.

When looking at the rows and rows of plant food in a bottle, I’ve often wondered where it comes from. I think the nutrients used to fertilize plants should be derived sustainably. Fortunately, alternatives to synthetic and high-impact processed ingredients are becoming more readily available. Jason’s Indoor Guide to Organic and Hydroponics Gardening has some good info on sources for these products.

Overall, the Window Farms Project had me at, “Hello.” Homegrown food, DIY, passionate group brainstorming… and if that wasn’t enough, it also makes heavy use of completely recycled materials!

Plus for me, much like Christmas ornaments, I can pack it into the attic during the regular growing season. Which is soon soon soon!

I can’t wait to read about the plants you recommend for this month’s How to Find Great Plants — the published issue will be out on Monday (January 31st). Remember, you can reuse an article you’ve already written so I hope we have some great last minute entries:

Eliza Lord

I'm a Greenville, SC native (the Appalachian foothills) who wears the hats of Greenville Master Gardener & Upstate Master Naturalist. I love to write about food and sustainability.

34 thoughts on “How to Create a Window Farm (Real Things Thursdays)”

  1. Mark and Gaz - January 27, 2011 3:42 pm

    What a creative way of gardening! It does seem a unique variation on vertical gardening that’s starting to crop up all over now
    Mark and Gaz´s last blog post ..Worth the Inconvenience

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 12:41 pm

      I am so glad that gardening for food is becoming so popular again. It seems like even 10 years ago most gardeners were only doing ornamentals.
      Sustainahillbilly´s last blog post ..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 3

      Reply
  2. Ali - January 27, 2011 3:48 pm

    My computer is super slow, so I can’t watch your video with having to wait for several hours for it to buffer, but I can imagine what the window farm might be!
    Ali´s last blog post ..Chilli Tea

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 12:42 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your computer! There is a link for the ordinary website too and they have a regular photo gallery there.

      Reply
  3. Robin - January 27, 2011 4:16 pm

    That’s a great idea! It would also be a very good science project for teachers. Thanks for sharing :)
    Robin´s last blog post ..I Dont BEElieve it!

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 12:44 pm

      Even though we have lots of outdoor growing space and mild enough winters to grow under polytunnels outside, I think I might do this in our kitchen next winter. Partly because I like the idea of winter basil, and partly because I think my daughter would learn a lot about chemistry, physical science, and botany.

      Reply
  4. Janet/Plantaliscious - January 27, 2011 5:03 pm

    What a fabulous idea, I’ll have to look in to that, it would be a great way to start plants off for later planting out, and to have year-round herbs and salad leaves available.

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 12:46 pm

      I’m definitely eyeing it for a way to keep basil happy in my kitchen all winter… and also as a fun science project. Bit too late to start this season, though.
      Sustainahillbilly´s last blog post ..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 3

      Reply
  5. Carolflowerhill
    Twitter: flora
    - January 27, 2011 7:52 pm

    I love this concept! It would be twofold if there was a view one wanted to cover up.
    Carolflowerhill´s last blog post ..Birds in Review Part XI Hoarfrost and Twinkletoes Turkeys

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 12:47 pm

      True! I guess I’ll put it in the window that overlooks a building next door.

      Reply
  6. Janet - January 27, 2011 10:43 pm

    Interesting concept with the bottles. Sure would be nice for veggies in the winter.
    Janet´s last blog post ..Tuesdays Trees- Baldcypress

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 12:55 pm

      Yeah! Although from their looks I don’t think they would support anything very big. I wonder if currant tomatoes would do well though — it doesn’t take much sun for them to fruit compared to standard tomatoes.

      Reply
  7. debsgarden - January 27, 2011 11:34 pm

    Window farming looks like a great project for kids. My boys would have loved this when they were young. (They might still like it, though they now are busy with uncool things adults have to do.)
    debsgarden´s last blog post ..By the Beautiful Sea

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 12:55 pm

      Haha, yeah my daughter is very excited about the idea and doesn’t understand why I want to wait until next winter.
      Sustainahillbilly´s last blog post ..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 3

      Reply
  8. p3chandan - January 28, 2011 2:10 am

    Such a great idea of gardening during your off season! Plants in the bottles look so lovely against your window. Here we also have commercialised hydroponic farmings. Setting them up is quite expensive if you want to do it at home. I prefer the old fashioned get-your-hand-dirty-in-the-muck of open concept gardening!
    p3chandan´s last blog post ..A garden of fungi

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 12:58 pm

      I prefer outdoor gardening too… but will take whatever I can get in the off season!

      Reply
  9. Elaine - January 28, 2011 8:30 am

    I saw her on The Martha Show a few months ago and was fascinated by her window gardens. Such a wonderful way for city dwellers to grow their own food! I also had the opportunity to visit a hydroponic farm while in Florida last year. The fruits and vegetables were so beautiful and perfect from the farm and it seemed like the colors were much more vibrant than the produce I have grown in the the ground or pots in my garden.
    Elaine´s last blog post ..French Friday with Dorie- Chicken Bstilla

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 1:00 pm

      I’m glad to hear her project is getting so much publicity. It must be fun to get invited on a show for something like that. I think the minimalist background in hydroponic farms seems to highlight the way the veggies look — the farm you went to sounds cool!
      Sustainahillbilly´s last blog post ..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 3

      Reply
  10. Mike - January 28, 2011 9:01 am

    I enjoyed the videos. It truly is pretty darn amazing what people come up with.
    Mike´s last blog post ..On Storing Seed

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 1:02 pm

      Great! I absolutely agree. :)

      Reply
  11. Ginny - January 28, 2011 3:48 pm

    Very interesting! I have a little test tube vase that hangs on my kitchen window and I’ve discovered that it’s nice for rooting very small cuttings.
    Ginny´s last blog post ..How do you keep your heart warm

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 1:06 pm

      That sounds really pretty and useful!

      Reply
  12. dona
    Twitter: donaLaTerrazza
    - January 28, 2011 4:11 pm

    Wow Eliza, that’s really interesting! I’d never heard of window farm before, here in Europe. Thanks for teaching me. :)
    dona´s last blog post ..Follia costruttiva

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 1:07 pm

      I’m glad to spread the idea across the pond. :)

      Reply
  13. lifeshighway
    Twitter: lifeshighway
    - January 28, 2011 4:24 pm

    I absolutely love the concept but I live in a shady house. The best light in the house would be right over there where the fireplace is sitting.

    The only way I could have one of these, is to convert my daughter’s bedroom into a greenhouse.

    Somehow, I don’t think she will cooperate.
    lifeshighway´s last blog post ..Furry- White and Magical and Not Even Falcor

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 1:08 pm

      I used to have the same problem. As of this weekend, I can commandeer my boyfriend’s sunny windows. Hurray!

      Reply
  14. Meredith O. - January 28, 2011 6:17 pm

    Very, very cool. I’m going to have to share this info with our school. You have such great info on your blog, Eliza — I’ve already learned so much!

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 1:13 pm

      Awesome (and thanks)! I love when schools do growing projects with kids.

      Reply
  15. Zoe / pearled earth - January 28, 2011 6:50 pm

    I’ve never much cared for curtains, but this I would enjoy!
    Zoe / pearled earth´s last blog post ..The Vegetarian Butcher Makes Sausage

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 1:16 pm

      Chia curtains! Haha. :)
      Sustainahillbilly´s last blog post ..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 3

      Reply
  16. Diana - January 29, 2011 12:08 am

    Very inteesting idea. Remind me of the hanging garden of babylon.
    Diana´s last blog post ..Kitaran Hidup Peria Seed Week &amp Seed Give-away

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 1:22 pm

      I’ve heard of the hanging gardens you mentioned (of course) but didn’t really know much about them until I looked it up on Wikipedia just now. Thanks for prompting me to research it!

      Reply
  17. landscapelover - January 30, 2011 7:19 am

    What a fascinating post. We live in a city apartment and long to garden! These window farms look just the ticket…
    landscapelover´s last blog post ..Villandry in winter

    Reply
    1. Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet
      - February 2, 2011 1:23 pm

      Definitely more simple than the giant potager in your latest post! :)
      Sustainahillbilly´s last blog post ..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 3

      Reply

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