There is something alluring about beautiful fresh green herbs or fragrant flowers bursting with colour. Even the taste of juicy cherry tomatoes that are ready to pick from your very own kitchen window-box is exquisite. SubhanAllah! It doesn’t have to be something you just read about; you too can experience the joys of growing your own compact garden with amazing results! You don’t need acres of garden to achieve this – all you need is a window-box that can be placed in your house.
Choosing a Window-box
I talked to my friend Azmine who lives in a second floor flat in London where she has access to a communal garden, but is limited to what she can actually plant there. She says her kitchen windowsill allows her to have blooming plants and herbs close at hand at any time of the year, adding, “I like the small trough window-box which fits right on my windowsill.”
The varieties of window-boxes that are available are quite surprising. The plain plastic ones are the least expensive, with the price increasing in line with the durability and decorative element. The beautiful wooden or zinc window boxes are among the most expensive. When choosing one, make sure the box has drainage holes, a depth of at least 20 cm, and a drip tray, otherwise you’ll have a constant mess on your hands. Bear in mind that the bigger the box, the more room your plants have to grow. A good tip is to buy a terracotta window-box and have interchangeable plastic ones inside so you can swap them out. The compost also remains fresher this way.
To prepare the box for planting, simply line with cardboard so the roots are protected and don’t grow out through the drainage holes. Now, decide where you are going to put the box. Is the area shady or sunny? Is there a strong wind because your window is higher up? Determining the answers to this question will steer you in the right direction to the type of plants you grow.
There is a huge variety of plants that can be grown from the comfort of your home. You can pick your favourite herb, and choose between the varieties of flowering perennials to provide a year-round display.
The Qur’an mentions herbs twice and says, “…bring forth for us of what the earth grows.” (Al-Baqarah:61)
Specific aromatic and healthy herbs include garlic, thyme, chives, basil, rosemary, parsley and sage.
Petunias, marigolds, impatiens, violets, lavender, geraniums, sweet William, pansies, daffodils, tulips, and heather.
Cherry tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, lettuce, garlic, and radishes can all be grown in a window-box garden.
Azmine says, “I generally plant whatever is left over from a salad.” This way, you eliminate the expense of going out to find seeds or seedlings. “Every day I look at them and water them and see how many leaves they have.”
You can share your new found interest with your children, from the very beginning of planting a seed to the first shoot, to the growth and blossoming of plants. You can even get creative and make a well balanced floral design. Choose tall plants for the backdrop, ornamental plants for the foreground and cascading greenery for a highly personalised window-box with a winning style.
So, go on! Start your own window-box garden and experience the joy of growing your own herbs and plants. When did you last watch a cooking show on TV and hear the chef say, “Here are some herbs from my garden”? Now you can say the same!
Nadia Ali is a freelance writer born in London, UK and now living in the Caribbean. Her work has been published both online and in print. She is the author of “Alhamdulillah! For My Mommy,” a picture book for kids of all ages which is available from Creative Education and Publishing Company. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.