eggcarton.jpg Window gardens are a great way to get back to nature, especially if you live in an apartment, are homebound or just want a garden that’s a little smaller in scale. Even better, you could save money on produce if you grow vegetables or herbs, while supporting the ultimate in locally grown produce. When you couple that with reusing items for the garden container, it’s like getting extra brownie points from Mother Earth. To start, there are a few container garden care tips you should keep in mind. Apartment Therapy has some good tips. Here are some of the most important basics to get you started:
  • Make sure to research what certain plants require in a container. For instance, lettuce will need a shallow, wide container for spreading its leaves.
  • Make sure the window you place the garden by gets plenty of sun. Also, be sure to research how much sun your plant actually needs. Some require full sun, some only partial.
  • Look up how much water and soil each plant needs.
  • Use a garden cultivator to aerate the soil (the kind that looks like a claw hand).
  • Keep two containers going and replant two weeks after harvest to keep a continuous supply of edible plants, if that’s what you choose to plant.
You’ll also need to make sure your soil is nutrient-rich. The Department of Natural Resources has a good homemade recipe, if you don’t want to buy bags of fertilized soil. The recipe consists of 1 part sand, 1 part peat moss, 1 part loam and some fertilizer. If you’re making a large container garden, they recommend a ½ cup of garden lime for every 5-gallon bucket of soil made. The sand acts as drainage, the peat moss adds organic matter, lime makes the soil less acidic and loam adds nutrients. If you can’t find loam, you can mix 2 parts sand, 2 parts peat moss, 1 part compost (for nutrients and organic matter) and the same measurement of garden lime.

Once you have the soil and plants worked out, you might wonder what you should use as a container. The answer is anything that will hold soil and provide enough of an opening. Below are 15 ideas for reused items that you can use to make a container garden.

Tin Cans
Tin cans are a classic window garden upcycle. There’s always enough of them around, and they add a classic, rustic look to a kitchen. Go here to find a great tutorial on how to use tins cans to make an indoor herb garden.

Plastic Bottles
Plastic bottles are another item you probably have tons of which lying around. They actually make great hydroponic gardens, considering how well they hold in moisture. Go here to give a good tutorial on how to make your own.

Egg Cartons
Egg cartons have always been a good item for window gardens. Their segmented construction makes them excellent seed starters. Find a good tutorial on how to do that here.

DIY Garden Pole
This one’s more on the unconventional side. If you can come across a decent pole, maybe an old playground pole or a pull-up bar, you can use it in an indoor garden for climbing vines. You can find a good tutorial here.

Wooden Pallet
If you have a lot of room and large windows, you can use a wooden pallet as a container garden. Go here to see a project that turns a pallet into a garden table.

Various Empty Containers
This idea is as varied as what you may have available. I’ve seen window gardens in Starbucks cups, pudding cups and yogurt containers. Here’s a cute project using yogurt containers to make a stylish herb garden with burlap and ribbon.

Plastic Bags
Yes, you can even use plastic bags. This hanging Ziploc garden at Anthropologie shows just how expansive the project can get. Your best bet would be to put a hole in the top of the bag and hang with twine. It’s an interesting option if you have no counter space available.

Growing plants in shoes gives your home a creative, wacky look. Go here to see a wall garden made with old plastic clogs. I’ve also seen boot planters.

Tool Boxes
Old vintage toolboxes can make some unique container gardens. Here you can see an attractive succulent garden in an old, red toolbox. It also makes the garden easy to transport.

As proof that container gardens are as limited as the imagination, artist Tom Ballinger made planters out of some old jeans. You could also apply a similar concept to old hats.

Mason Jars
This project is a little more in the realm of “normal.” Always a DIY favorite, mason jars add a classic, homey feel to any kitchen style. They make perfect container gardens, since they are easy to hang with some hose clamps. See an example here.

Old Toys, Like Trucks
If you want a real vintage look, ideas like this toy truck planter will give your home some classic style. You could also use hallowed-out blocks, empty jack-in-the-box boxes or whatever strikes your fancy.

Rainspout Tubing
If you really want to get inventive with whatever is lying around, you could even use some old tubing, like from a rainspout. You can view a creative version here, which they painted an attractive red.

Wine Bottles
Wine bottles are always a creative option, as well. The best thing about them is they can be rigged into a self-watering system. By cutting the bottle, you can turn the top over and create a wicking system that will continually draw the water into the soil via some rope. Go here for a full tutorial. It’s great for busy types who need their gardens somewhat self-sufficient.

Chicken Feeder
And finally, this creative gardener made great use of an old chicken feeder. The trough shape makes a good long, base for a variety of plants that could line a windowsill.