We give our soil a much-needed rest during the winter before beginning a new planting season in the spring. And as the temperatures drop, we often reach for heartier fare to put on the table.
But after eating fresh, crunchy vegetables all summer, we all find ourselves longing for the taste of something green.
Some of us are lucky enough to live somewhere with a climate that allows us to continue growing vegetables outside year-round.
But for those of us looking out our windows at a snowy landscape and longing for a crunchy salad, winter can be a bit bleak.
Sure, we can head down to the grocery store and buy pink, out-of-season tomatoes or pay double the price for a banged-up zucchini that we couldn’t give away last August.
Instead, why not turn your efforts inside.
When discussing growing food indoors, many people think of large hydroponic setups with fancy grow lights that require a ton of time and effort, not to mention a costly setup.
But I’m not talking about that.
In the winter months, it’s not only our soil that needs rest; it’s us too.
So, I’m not talking about providing your whole household with all the fresh vegetables you’re accustomed to in the summer. No one has the space or time for that.
I’m talking about supplementing our heavy winter diets with a bit of fresh veg you can easily grow on a windowsill or countertop. And with the prices of groceries going up every little bit we can do for ourselves helps.
Let’s jump in and take a look at some of the things you can grow quickly and easily inside your home this winter.
What to Grow?
Really, it’s up to you, but in general cold weather, crops and vegetables that don’t take up a ton of room are best.
For instance, it might not be the best idea to start growing watermelon in your living room in December. But you could put a hanging planter with Swiss chard in your window or even a micro tomato plant on the coffee table.
Remember, we’re not looking to plant row after row of something this time of year. One or two plants of any variety are much more feasible.
If you’ve got the space and the lighting, you’re only limited by pollination.
As long as what you wish to grow is self-pollinated, you can grow it inside.
Granted, things like eggplant, tomatoes and squash can use a little help, but that’s easy enough to do. Meredith details how to hand pollinate squash in her article. It only takes a few seconds, and the same process works for eggplant and tomatoes.
Quick-growing vegetables are your best bet for getting some added crunch in your wintertime diet. And most of these “fast foods” pack a nutritional punch that comes in handy during flu and cold season—things like cress, lettuces, beet greens, Swiss chard, and radishes.
For a whole list of quick-growing veggies, check out Elizabeth’s full article:
Sprouts are another great option, especially for those who don’t have a well-lit space. These crunchy little greens are ridiculously easy to grow.
My kiddos are the sprout growers in our house. And you can use them in salads, on sandwiches instead of lettuce, tossed in with ramen noodles and stir-fries.
A sprouting jar takes up a tiny space on your counter, and it only takes a few minutes to get them started. Plus, you can enjoy them within a few days of starting sprouts!
Cheryl has a step-by-step guide to growing sprouts to help you get started.
If you can’t stomach the idea of pasty supermarket tomatoes all winter long, try growing one of these short-season tomatoes in a pot. Granted, you’ll probably have to employ grow lights and grow them in the warmest room of your house, but if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood with fresh tomatoes in February.
I wrote a piece this fall about micro vegetable varieties. What can I say? I have a thing for incredibly cute things in miniature.
Miniature vegetables are perfect for growing indoors mainly because you can mix them in with your home décor. Is that a flowering houseplant or a hot biquinho pepper plant?
I’m a huge fan of the Tom thumb peas, they are quite tasty, and I can easily pick enough peas at a time from one plant to add them to my salad.
Check out all the tiny vegetables you can grow in a little bit of space for some extra green in your diet.
Where to Grow It?
Another question you might have about growing food indoors: where to grow things? That’s entirely up to you. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
You’ll want to choose a location that receives around 8 hours of light per day. A south-facing window is great for this. If you’ve got a sunroom, put it to good use!
If you have houseplants take a look at where they are happiest, then start there.
You can always use grow lights to help get the job done. You may choose to use them exclusively or to supplement your natural light. The nice thing about grow lights these days is you can find relatively small ones that won’t stick out like a sore thumb.
I have a couple of these guys, and I love them! (And so does my Meyer lemon tree!)
One of the best places in your home for a tiny winter garden is a windowsill. These spaces often go unused. Why not put them to use growing food?
If you have a particularly drafty window, you might want to weatherproof it first, but there’s no reason why you can’t still grow veggies.
What Do I Grow It In?
Small window boxes set on a sunny windowsill will do just fine depending on what you’re growing. Remember that most windows tend to be cooler this time of year, so you may want to limit what you grow in them to cooler weather crops. Things like micro peas, lettuces, kale, bok choy, and radishes would do well in window boxes.
These particular window boxes will look great with any décor and fit nicely on a windowsill.
If you don’t relish the idea of having something your cat can knock over, consider hanging macrame plant holders in your window. Not only are they functional, keeping plants secure, but they look lovely hanging in your window. You can even make them yourself.
A plant holder also works well to hold pots for larger plants, like a micro tomato or bushy kale.
And depending on how sunny the room is where you plan to grow your veggies, you can use a pot that you would put a houseplant in. When removed from the garden setting, many vegetables look lovely grown indoors.
If you want to get serious about growing things like microgreens or lettuces, there are even some pretty great countertop setups that have built-in grow lights.
These AeroGardens are quite popular. I have a friend who likes hers quite a bit.
Of course, if you have the room and the sun, you can always use a GardenTower inside too. Sometimes growing vertically is the best option to save space.
With a little thought and creativity, I’ll bet you’ll find you’ve got space to grow something fresh and tasty right in the comfort of your home this winter.