Growing a Winter Garden
As winter begins to close in around most areas of the world, many plants give into the natural cycle of life and begin to wither away. The earth is preparing for a much needed break from all of the growth, so that by next year it can rebuild life once again. Despite this, many people enjoy gardening year round, and some depend on the vegetables and fruits that they grow for food in their home and need to find the kinds of produce that can continue to grow inside during the cold weather. Thankfully, there are many vegetables that can be potted and moved indoors, and they will produce delicious vegetables all year. Moreover, the happiness that indoor plants can bring to their caregivers is another great benefit of cultivating indoor vegetables during those dark winter days. That being said, here are some of the vegetables that you can continue to grow over the winter inside your home!
The Best Indoor Vegetables to Grow over the Winter
Whether you are just hoping to grow a few potted vegetables, or have more space and larger pots that you would like to use this winter for delicious homegrown vegetables, there are many options for you to pick from.
- Carrots – this delicious and very healthy root vegetable does not require a lot of room in between each one, but they do require about 12 inches in depth of soil. Growing this vegetable will be ideal if you have a wider and deeper pot so that you may harvest more carrots at harvesting time. They need about 12 hours of sunlight.
- Microgreens – while not often thought of when considering which vegetables to cultivate, microgreens may be the perfect choice in the winter, as they grow quickly and are packed full of flavor and nutrients that you may be lacking during the winter. Microgreens are best described as the seedlings of edible plants. There are many different kinds of microgreens, all ranging in flavor, but that can be added to sandwiches, salads, bowls, and more. The different kinds include sunflower, spinach, swiss chard, and more. They do not require big pots, and oftentimes there are kits with instructions on how to cultivate them properly.
- Tomatoes – tomatoes need plenty of light, so if you are expecting darker winters and low light, these will benefit from a grow light. They are a very rewarding vegetable to grow, and self-pollinate as well. The different varieties of tomatoes will have you making fresh pasta sauce, salsa, and much more over the winter.
- Scallions – scallions are a great option for indoor gardening, as they do not require a lot of room, and add wonderful flavor to many dishes. You can plant these from seed, or buy an organic scallion from the produce section of your local grocery store. As long as the bottom of the scallion plant is still intact, you can continue to get use out of it by planting it in soil or placing it in a cup of water and watching the roots grow.
- Peppers – Like tomatoes, these do not require a pollinator to grow properly. Peppers are wonderful potted plants, but they do need plenty of sunlight and a warmer indoor temperature in order to grow properly. If you are growing spicy peppers, the level of spice is generally a result of the heat and sunlight that is around them.
Tips and Tricks for Optimal Indoor Vegetable Growth
Almost all vegetables require a decent amount of sunlight. If you are expecting less natural light this winter, you may benefit from purchasing grow lights to replace the lack of sunlight. These lights are either made to resemble the sunlight for your plants, therefore helping them grow properly, or they are made unique for whatever vegetable you may be growing. These lights will give you peace of mind even on those dark, dreary winter days by providing the perfect amount of light needed for proper growth.
Furthermore, the temperature you may turn your heat onto is something else to consider when picking certain vegetables. Herbs and peppers need warmer indoor temperatures of about 70 degrees fahrenheit, while other plants will flourish even if you keep your indoor temperature in the 60s. Make sure the plants are not set too close to the vents or any fireplaces, as the extreme temperatures can harm the growth of the plant. This includes very cold windowsills, as the cold emitted from the windows can cause the plants to get too cold and die.
As always, make sure you use high quality, well draining organic soil for proper nutrients and pots that drain well so that your plants do not get too wet when watering. Your indoor vegetables may benefit from an organic fertilizer solution catered to each plant’s soil needs. Always check the required pH and nutrient levels for each vegetable before purchasing a fertilizer. Not every plant needs a fertilizer, and not every fertilizer fits every plant.
Vegetable Gardening Outdoors in the Winter
Surprisingly, you may be able to continue to grow vegetables outside even in the winter cold. There are many cold tolerant vegetables, and depending on your climate, you may find some of your favorites to grow. However, many of these vegetables may need to be started before winter hits, sometime in early fall usually being best. Here are some options for cold tolerant vegetables in the winter:
- Garlic – garlic has a long growth period, and depending on whether you are in southern or northern zones, they will be planted usually from October-November, and harvested sometime the next year. There is both soft-necked and hard-necked garlic, the hard-necked being more suitable for the northern states frigid temperatures.
- Broccoli – another vegetable that can tolerate cold temperatures, broccoli, if well established beforehand, may be able to tolerate temperatures as low as 28 degrees fahrenheit. If not well established, the temperatures it can withstand can go as low as 40 degrees.
- Cabbage – if this vegetable is planted in mid summer, it may be established well for those cold temperatures that come in winter. The best option for growing optimal cabbages outdoors in winter is to use row covers, as they will keep some heat in and prevent frost and snow from accumulating onto them.
Gardening All Year is Possible
Gardeners are often people who enjoy the feeling of the soil in between their fingers and love to see the fruit of their labor pay off as the seeds pop through the surface as a tiny seedling, and eventually flourish into a fruitful plant. The payoff of growing your own vegetables is insurmountable – not only do you get to achieve great pride in your hard work, you also know exactly what was put into the soil and onto the plant itself. Many vegetables at the grocery store are treated with pesticides and watered with low quality water, and also may not be filled with the amount of nutrients that they should have. The winter can be a challenging time to continue your passion for gardening, but it is possible and rewarding. There are many fertilizers for indoor plants that will help your plant grow and remain healthy during the winter. However, whether you choose to pot your vegetables and keep them indoors or find cold tolerant vegetables that remain outside, they can continue to grow year round and produce a bountiful harvest that you can enjoy daily.