Who says you have to wait until the ground thaws to grow garden-fresh greens? Lettuces can sprout on a kitchen windowsill beginning in January, weeks before the weather warms up enough for outdoor seed-starting. By February, you'll be harvesting tender baby leaves for mouthwatering salads.
A collection of 2x2x12-inch metal drawers, salvaged from a vintage tool chest, can pull seed-starting duty and look stylish in the process. Filled with cut-and-come-again varieties, these drawers remain on the windowsill -- just a snip away from the salad bowl -- all through the growing season. For ease of transplanting, we also like to fill a stack of inexpensive peat pots to move to the garden later.
Because daylight hours are still short this early in the season, place all seedlings near a south-facing window to maximize sunlight -- six hours or more is ideal. The sooner you sow the seeds, the sooner salad season begins.
So what are you waiting for? Here's how to get started.
Fill the drawer with potting soil.
Press the soil with your fingers to eliminate air pockets.
Add soil until it's even with the top of the drawer.
Make a shallow trench (1/2-inch deep) with your finger.
Plant a single row of seeds, spaced 1/2-inch apart, into the trench.
Pinch together potting soil to cover the seeds. Press gently.
Water until potting medium is evenly moist. Keep moist.
To harvest, snip off the leaves about an inch above the soil.