The thermometer read -15° this morning. And while it might warm up enough today to get us out of negative numbers, there’s snow in the forecast and the first crocus won’t pop up its head for months. Yup, it’s been a tough winter so far, but one way we’ve always coped is by cultivating a little summer with vegetables and herbs in pots. Not only do the “crops” improve our mood on bleak winter days, they also improve the taste of just about everything we eat.
You don’t need a green thumb—or an enormous budget—to get started. Just give these plants a try in your house or apartment this winter and reap the benefits through spring:
A lot of herbs grow well in pots indoors – and you can keep them that way year-round if you like (nice if you don’t have the luxury of outdoors garden space). Basil is probably the simplest herb of all to grow inside—just plant a packet of seeds and place the pot next to a south-facing window for maximum sunlight. You can also buy cuttings or small starter plants of oregano, parsley, thyme, or rosemary year-round and plant them in small pots. They’ll grow well near a south-facing window.
Imagine – a carrot patch with no four-footed invaders! Round varieties of carrots and radishes, which tend not to root as deeply as other varieties, do great indoors. Sow seeds at any point from late winter to mid-autumn. All you need is a box, trough, or pan.
No more mealy tomatoes for you! If you’re willing to put in a bit of extra work, you can grow small types of tomatoes inside. You’ll still need to stake the plants so they can bear the fruit’s weight, and most plants will need to be transferred from a small pot filled with starter mix to a larger container of potting soil as they grow, but the end product is like a delicious handful of summer!
Growing plants like lettuce, spinach, and arugula indoors takes a bit more effort and potential expense because leafy greens need more sunlight than short winter days produce naturally. If you really want fresh greens this winter, though, your best bet is to invest in fluorescent grow lights for optimum growing conditions. Just plant your seeds in moist potting soil, water regularly, and leave the grow lights on for 10 to 12 hours a day.
We tried growing mushrooms last winter and discovered how fun (and easy) it is to harvest our own – a real treat when you consider the cost of cultivated mushrooms in the grocery store. You a dark, draft-free place like a pantry or cupboard. plus special bags of compost with mushroom spawn already included—just water the soil and leave it in your dark place, preferably with the temperature set between 50 and 60 degrees.