Browsing farmer’s markets and garden shops makes me want to buy plants. As in, lots of them. I get nutty ideas about ways to keep plants happy and beautiful indoors, and become enchanted by the leafy green promises of growing things I can not only enjoy looking at but also eat.
For the most part, these ideas never pan out in my east-facing condo, and I end up with withered herbs at various stages along the way.
I’m actually on the landscaping committee at my building. Don’t tell them I kill plants.
Anyway, I occasionally have a more modest, practical idea, which leads to at least a few months of a living thing or two. This idea, the wine crate windowbox, comes from me wanting to essentially have indoor windowboxes with little upkeep and no huge mess.
Follow along. But first, grab a beer.
I suggest a New Glarus Berliner Weisse (more on that later) or a similar refreshing number with tart and dry elements.
Also grab a wine crate, any size, but deeper is better for root growth (or so I’m told). A staple gun will make this project terribly easy, too, and some heavy duty lawn bags to line the crate are a must.
Oh, also, you need plants and potting soil – more soil than you may think. I chose four for a relatively small crate – rosemary, basil, habanero pepper, bell pepper. They by no means need to be edibles, that’s just my preference.
Take the crate and cut two pieces of the garbage bag to line the crate. I left the bag folded, so that there would be two layers within each piece. The first cut should be the width of one side and long enough to line down the side, across the bottom and up the other side (i.e., press it down into the crate to line it.) The second cut should be the same but in the other direction – the width of the other side.
When you’re done cutting, line them up accordingly and staple them along the top of the sides and at the corners of the box. Trim any excess. The entire interior of the box should be covered. I actually used packing tape in the bottom corners to keep the pieces from sliding on one another, just for insurance.
From there, it is quite simple. Some rocks in the bottom are a good idea for drainage. Fill with soil, add plants, and water generously!The New Glarus Berliner Weisse is an ideal beer for this project, especially if you are working outside. It is so refreshing and tart that it brightens up the act of digging in soggy soil. It would be an ideal Berliner for mixing with a fruit syrup, like raspberry or maybe even peach.
This Wisconsin take on a traditional German sour gets its punch from “Barrel fermentation, Riesling grapes and Wisconsin White Wheat” along with a bottle conditioning using five proprietary yeast strains.
New Glarus is not available in Minnesota, so feel free to reach for a Wolf Berlin Style Weisse from here in Minnesota, or try a traditional version from Germany. Thanks to my friend Josh for my New Glarus birthday beer.
This project was ideal for my space because I have these long window ledges that go from wall to wall in my condo, but I have no patio or deck. Try using your wine crate windowbox near a kitchen window or as a creative centerpiece on a porch table.
As for finding a crate to use, they are getting harder to get as more wineries move towards cardboard. Ask your local liquor or wine store. My most reliable source has been Haskell’s in Downtown Minneapolis or U.S. Liquor in Hopkins.
Love wine crates? Look forward to my next [craft & craft] edition – an entire wall bookshelf made of them. Can’t wait!