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Jay North
Mr. North has been featured in People Magazine, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The New Yorker, and thousands of other publications. Moreover Jay has appeared on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, World News, Sunday Magazine, and hundreds of other TV and radio talk shows voicing informed opinions on edible flowers and organic farming.
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Windowsill Organic Garden How-To, Start to Finish
By Jay North

Part 1

Planning your garden environment is a very personal thing. You should do it in a way that suits your personality and the style with which you do things. Figure out what you need and why you want a windowsill or indoor garden. What do you want from it? Make a little list of these things and then start looking. If you are more comfortable with charts and diagrams make them. If you work well with a simple list, then use that. The most important things is to set your goal, have fun and then go for it.

I personally do not start with any particular plan. No, I like to wing it. Whether I want to grow edibles or ornamentals I just go with what I like. I ask myself, "What am I looking for in my environment?" Color, scent and size are things that go through my head. I am an herb lover, so I'm after eye candy as well as scent and edibility. I like to go really wild with my plantings and placement. It's really all about what we enjoy the most and what we believe our visitors will enjoy as well. The important thing is, keep it fun, because if it is not, chances are you won't want to keep up with your gardening chores.

If you have culinary needs then make a list of what you would like to have fresh to pick right at home. Look at what you use now and also what you seldom use, because you have to go out and get it. You can have some variety of most vegetables fresh daily for at least part of the year. Next, look at your dietary needs. Is there someone in the family with special needs? Put those on the list. How would you like to improve your diet?

Next, consider your senses. What would you like to see, smell and taste? We all have preferences for certain plant styles and flowers. What colors do you like? What colors would you like to add to your environment? What kinds of patterns and greens do you prefer? Do you have a trouble spot in your home that could be improved with a plant? Maybe there is a stark looking wall or a window with a not so great view. Is there a corner that needs brightening or a harsh space that needs softening? Is there something that needs to be masked, like pipes or a radiator?

You might also consider if you need more green to clean the air, either because of odors in your building or smokers. Consider what herbs you like to cook with and which ones might be nice to have around for their medicinal properties.

Once you have the list of your needs, then start looking at plants that can fill them and choose the ones that look good to you and which seem to fit your lifestyle. If you often leave the house on weekends, then don't pick plants that must have daily fresh water and spritzing. Select those plants whose properties fill your needs, whose looks you like and whose care fits well with your usual routine. Also look at the space you have and jot down the light exposure, usual temperature and the décor. Maybe you may want to take a few pictures. You will want "before and after" shots for sure.

You can copy the charts from the appendix and tick off or highlight the kinds of plants you think you want to try. You can make a coded chart by hand or on the computer and put little pictures with it or you can simply play it by ear. Some people use graph paper to plot out their plans, and software like Visio is a popular tool. Whatever suits you will work best for YOU. Some people make a room by room plan drawn to scale and even put little pictures on them. They tell me they have fun making up plans and considering them before they go shopping. If you do this, don't forget to put in windows and doors.

Whatever you do, remember to be flexible. An inflexible plan set you up for failure. Besides, being able to act on opportunity is exciting and fun, and that's really what this is all about. Yes, I want to see you improve your home environment and yes I truly believe that having safe organically grown vegetables and herbs in your home will greatly improve your health, and have the added side effect of decreasing the popularity of poisons in our food chain. However, the bottom line here is for you to enjoy what you are doing, so don't make things difficult by having too rigid a plan or working too hard on this. Be ready to make substitutions when what you want is not available or is not of good quality. Add new discoveries. Take opportunities to get cuttings wherever you are. Make a list for shopping or acquisition and have fun ticking some of them off. Enjoy reading catalogs and surfing the Internet for information and stock. You can start with my site:

This Article will be continued next week...

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