These 5 tasty and nutritious crops are easy and fun to grow indoors during the winter!
Hankering for your garden, but spring is still months away? Why not try your hand at growing a few things indoors during the winter months? You may not be able to grow all of your favorite summer crops, and the scale may be limited based on your indoor space, but you can certainly enjoy a few fresh homegrown foods even during the coldest part of the year. You just need to realize the limitations of indoor growing, understand which crops do best indoors.
Generally, all you really need to grow indoors during the winter is a sunny South-facing window, and some containers and potting soil. However, some plants may need supplemental lighting, which will require purchasing a few grow lights.
Below are 5 crops that are delicious, nutritious, and relatively easy to grow indoors during the winter:
Basil, oregano, sage, lavender, mint, thyme, rosemary, dill, and other herbs are among the easiest edibles to grow indoors. Of these, mint is the most shade tolerant, though it still needs a few hours of direct light each day to thrive. Basil and dill have the highest heat requirements, so you’ll want to make sure they’re located in a room that stays above 60 degrees at night.
Lettuces, arugula, spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are also easy to grow indoors, though you’ll have more luck harvesting them as baby greens, rather than trying to grow them to maturity. Sow a new batch of seeds every few weeks to maintain a ready supply. Greens do not need supplemental light if located in a sunny, south-facing window. Otherwise, provide 10 to 12 hours of artificial light daily.
This tropical spice needs heat and humidity to thrive, so it isn’t the best candidate for a room that is kept at 68 degrees with the dry air of central heating. But it is feasible in a large terrarium, which can be made with any standard fish aquarium that is at least 24 inches tall (to accommodate for the height of the plants). Ginger requires good drainage, so don’t just add soil to the bottom of the aquarium; plant it in six-inch deep pots instead. You can start new plants by cutting up store-bought ginger (make sure it’s organic, as conventional ginger is often treated with growth inhibitors) into two-inch chunks with at least one knobby tip on each. Provide at least 8 hours of direct sun or 16 hours under grow lights.
Sprouts are by far the easiest way to grow a little fresh food in the depths of winter. Sprouting kits are your best bet – these are basically a mason jar with a perforated lid. Soak the seeds (mung beans, alfalfa, sunflower, etc) for a day or two and then leave them to germinate in the jar, rinsing twice per day. No direct sunlight is required; ordinary room lighting or a bit of diffuse light in a window is all you need.
Microgreens are essentially sprouts that have been allowed to develop their first leaves. Or you could say they are baby greens that are harvested early. Unlike sprouts, microgreens require soil – a seedling tray filled with potting soil is perfect. Soak the seeds overnight to get them started germinating and then cover them with a thin layer of soil in the tray, or just press them into the surface of the soil. Keep moist. Harvest once the first leaves emerge by cutting them with scissors just above the soil. Greens of all types are ideal for harvesting as microgreens, as are peas (that’s how you get pea shoots), and root crops, like turnips, beets, and radishes.