Want to grow fresh vegetables this season? Take it inside
We’ve learned that fall gardening is possible, and that preserving your garden goods through the winter is an option, but did you know you could extend your growing season even further and bring the greenery inside?
We’re all already living for the “plant life,” so why not start growing and tending to something that you can eat? There are a few ways to go about indoor gardening, and it all depends on what (and how much) you want to eat through the winter.
1. Set up an indoor greenhouse
This is the option I’d go with if you don’t have enough south-facing windows or windows in general. An indoor greenhouse can live in any spot in your house, but it will take up a lot of space.
2. Build a plant or garden wall
If you’ve been on Pinterest at all lately, you’ve probably seen the stunning plant walls that people are building in their homes—and they’re completely doable in a space of any size. All you need are some makeshift containers, a south-facing window or some grow lights, and plants that can grow in fairly shallow soil.
3. Set up multiple boxes or containers
Boxes or containers are the most common indoor gardening option as they can fit into any nook, corner or windowsill, and you can grow deeper root veggies in them. You can repurpose old containers or storage bins, add some drainage holes in the bottom, then place a dish, saucer or tray underneath to capture moisture. Make sure to use indoor potting soil and not your garden soil, so that you don’t bring weed seeds or pests inside.
For any of these indoor options, you won’t have to water as frequently as you would your outdoor garden since the crops won’t be subject to the outdoor elements. You also won’t have access to pollinators, so you’ll have to pollinate some veggies, like tomatoes or peppers, yourself, or grow leafy greens as they don’t need any pollination.
The most important factor here is sunlight. Since there is less sunlight during the winter, and some veggies need close to 12 hours of sunlight, you may have to invest in some grow lights to give them an extra hand.
The easiest veggies to grow indoors
These babies are sunshine lovers, and want about 12 to 16 hours of it. hey also need the temperature to be a bit warmer than other greens, around 70 degrees F. Once you get the temperature and sun right, herbs are easy and prolific. A four-inch pot will suffice for all herbs like chives, parsley, cilantro, oregano and mint, but your woody herbs like rosemary, sag, or thyme will require a deeper planter.
They’re cool-tolerant, and thrive at around 60 degrees F, so you don’t have to worry about warmth in your space. They do however need 12 hours of light and deep soil, as most root crops do, so in this case it may be best to buy a shorter variety of carrots to grow indoors.
These include spinach, salad mixes, Swiss chard, kale and arugula. They’re all fast growing, only feed four-inch tall containers and can be planted 10 to 15 cm apart. Leafy greens grow in four weeks in compact spaces, need 12 hours of sunlight, but also thrive in 60 degrees F.
They’ll grow well with your herbs as they love the warmth and the sunshine, and want about 14 to 16 hours of it. But again, once you get that temperature right, you can have fresh tomatoes all winter long.
These small greens are mighty powerful, as they have anywhere from 4 to 40 times the amount of nutrients as their mature counterpart. You can easily grow these indoors with some grow lights and harvest them much sooner than other greens, at around 2 to 3 weeks. You’ll want to plant from seed, sow tightly into a tray filled with a shallow layer of seed-starting mix, make sure there are drip holes in the bottom, and a tray below for catching water. The best part? You can “microgreen” pretty much any crop: peas, radish, broccoli, carrots, sunflowers, etc.
The good news is that most veggies can be planted indoors, some will just take up more space or will take longer to grow than in your outside garden. So, whatever your space availability is, there is a way for you to keep up your gardening through the winter. Not only will this be great for your winter feasts, but it will do wonders for your mental health. There’s nothing like getting your hands in the dirt to keep you grounded through the cold season.