Winter indoor gardening is generally for gardeners who prefer to do gardening all year long even when the outdoor temperatures are too cold. Growing vegetables as part of your winter indoor gardening is done on a small scale and the crops need to have more care than an outdoor summer garden. When gardening indoors the soil, watering, fertilizing and lighting need a little more attention than the outdoor garden.
It can be just as bountiful to maintain winter indoor plants during those cold winter months as it is during spring and summer with your outdoor garden. Growing vegetables indoors can be a way of introducing children to the benefits of maintaining their own garden and entice them to enjoy eating what they grow. For the gardeners who like to keep busy during winter or for those who have very little space outdoors starting a winter indoor vegetable garden can be very rewarding.
If you want to have an indoor vegetable garden it would be a good idea to buy extra seeds in the spring when you purchase the seeds for your spring garden. The extra seeds can be stored away until you need them. Vegetable seeds generally are not available to purchase in fall or winter in many of the cold climate areas. You also need to take into consideration that your space is going to be limited for an indoor garden so the vegetables you purchase will need to be a smaller size. Bush beans, leaf lettuce, and cherry tomatoes are good for indoor gardening along with cabbage, bunching onions, small root carrots, peppers, and bunching onions. These vegetables will grow well in any size container as long there is proper drainage.
Once you have chosen your vegetables you will need to decide if you are going to use a soil mix or a soil-less mix. The soil-less mix needs to have a soil structure that is able to retain nutrients and moisture for your crops to survive. A soil-less mix is generally used to help prevent insect problems and disease. The soil-less mixture, because it has no nutrients, will need more fertilizer added to it than organic soil. When using a soil mixture it is better to have a light soil for good drainage and air circulation around the plant roots. A mixture that has equal parts forest mulch, perlite, sand, and silica will work well. Another good mixture is to use equal amounts of coarse sand, native soil, and peat moss or compost.
The watering of your plants in the indoor garden must be checked daily. They will most likely need water once a day or every other day because your heater will be running all day and they do not receive the humidity they need. You also need to know that frequent watering slowly diminishes the nutrients in your soil. An organic fertilizer that is classified as slow release helps restore nutrients back into the soil. Over-watering can also cause root rot. Most houseplants and vegetables do not need water unless the soil has become dry and the water should be room temperature or tepid. Plants growing in containers will always need a little extra attention and care than those that are growing in the ground.
Lighting is an important factor for any indoor garden including houseplants, vegetables, or herbs. They will need natural sunlight and artificial light to survive. Grow lights are different than the ordinary house lights; they emit different light wave lengths so your plants will have the opportunity to grow healthy. They provide the light and the warmth that simulates the sun. LED grow lights have the capability of using less electricity and emitting a brighter light without the added heat that does not damage the plants. The LED lights can have the same effect as metal halide grow lights.
Winter indoor gardening will keep the gardener busy and enjoyable until planting time outdoors in the spring. Growing indoor vegetables during the winter will give the gardener fresh produce throughout the year. Growing herbs indoors is also a favorite because they will now be close at hand whenever you need them. Many of your herbs have fragrant aromas and are attractive. Cilantro, chives, rosemary and mint can be grown from cuttings, seeds or transplants and somehow grow better during the cooler months.