Staying healthy all winter long can be tougher than during the more abundant times of year. Between the lack of outdoor activity, the onset of the winter blues, and limited availability and higher prices of fruits and veggies, there’s a lot working against us.
Stay ahead of winter’s game by starting an indoor garden this winter. Growing your own supply of healthy, eco-friendly and sustainable foods will save you money and be kind to your body at the same time.
Indoor Vegetable Gardens
For an indoor vegetable garden you’ll want to select items that grow quickly. Veggies like greens, onions, green beans, kale and herbs can all grow at a fairly quick rate and in large quantities. If you want to grow warmer-weather veggies like tomatoes or peppers, it’s best to start them in the late summer, then transfer them inside, since they take longer to grow and need more heat. If you didn’t start your warm-weather plants in advance, you can try searching online resources like Territorial Seed Company for live plants, rather than seeds.
Keep in mind that your plants grow towards light, and the harder they have to search to find light, the less they’ll grow.
Location and Temperature
When choosing a location for your indoor garden, remember that light is key. Herb gardens in particular need direct sunlight as well as plants that have to support large fruits. You’ll want to keep plants near a window, but install a shade to protect them from overheating as well.
You’ll also have to control temperatures based on each plant. Keep plants that need similar temperatures grouped together. Plants like tomatoes and peppers need more heat, so they should kept in a warmer room. Lettuces, onions and peas need cooler temperatures, usually between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, with some fluctuations possible, of course. Your plants or seed packets should come with instructions for the proper growing conditions.
Potting and Transferring
If you’re moving some plants from outdoors to indoors, you’ll need pots large enough to house all of the roots. Before moving the plants indoors, check for insects and clean the leaves with warm soapy water. Cut the plant back by about 1/3 of its foliage and then dig up a generous portion of the root and soil ball. Tease the roots a little to give them room to breathe and transfer them the new indoor pot. Place additional potting soil around the plant and stake if necessary.
This process is especially important if you’re preparing your plants for a longer move. If you’re traveling to a new home or a warmer destination and want to take your plants along with you, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a moving company that’s also willing to move your plants.
Follow the same repotting guidelines for taking outdoor plants with you. Moving vans can get hot, so be sure to pack extra water and keep the most fragile plants covered in plastic and in the car with you, if possible. Once you arrive at your new home, follow the same guidelines for finding a well-lit, temperature controlled space for growing.
Indoor herb gardens typically do best in a sunny windowsill that faces south or southeast. Herbs typically need at least five hours of sunlight a day, and you want to make sure that the window you choose is draft free.
If you’re starting your herb garden from scratch, you can typically purchase the plants you need from a local nursery and grow them in a container that is about 6-12 inches deep. You can plant herbs in a wider or longer container, or keep them separate depending on your space. Use an organic potting mix and be sure to choose a post that allows for proper drainage. Pack your potting mix gently around the plant and leave about an inch on top for watering. Only water when the soil is noticeably dry and don’t pick from the herbs until they’re ready to sustain new life.
The best herbs for indoor gardens include: chives, basil, lavender, parsley, mint and thyme. Trim and use your plants often to encourage constant growth, but never trim more than 1/3 of the plant’s foliage.
Your winter will be much more joyous and healthy with the addition of fresh veggies and herbs. You’ll not only save money, but also experience the joy of indoor gardening!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by grovesa16