It may be too early to start your produce garden outdoors, and you may just be starting to plan out your plots, but it’s not too early to do some serious planting – indoors, that is. While we usually think of vegetable gardens as being located outdoors, there are many varieties which can be successfully grown indoors ni containers. Add to that the many herbs you can cultivate on your kitchen windowsill, and you have the availability of an entire fresh produce selection right in your own kitchen! Here are some suggestions and tips for successful indoor veggie gardening.
Herbs: Most herbs are relatively compact, and you can keep them small by frequently harvesting and pinching back. They need sunshine, so keep the pots on a sunny windowsill.
Dwarf Varieties: Some plants come in a dwarf (also called miniature or midget) variety that will do well indoors, provided they have at least half a day of sunshine. These include: dwarf citrus, dwarf carrot, radishes, beets, baby bush cucumbers, and peppers which grow in compact form. Check with your local nursery or garden center to see what they have available. For a more complete list, visit this site. One of the beautiful advantages of growing dwarf produce inside during the winter is that you can move the containers outdoors when the weather warms up. Dwarf produce is also a great choice for a small yard. You don’t need a full vegetable garden – just tuck a plant in here and there among your flowers or shrubs.
Hanging Baskets: If you’re short on floor space, consider planting varieties that grow well in baskets. These include tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and even some potatoes. Strawberries also do well in hanging baskets. Planting in baskets is of two types: traditional erect planting, and upside down. There are special inverted baskets you can buy to hang plants such as tomatoes and potatoes upside down, but you can also drill a hole in the bottom of a plastic bucket and insert a transplant once its root system is well established. When the weather is warm, you can move your baskets outdoors to hang near your patio or deck. If you’ve got an outdoor kitchen, you may appreciate the convenience of a hanging salad garden right at your fingertips!
Hydroponics: Tomatoes and cucumbers are among the most popular indoor hydroponic (water-growing) varieties. Hydroponic plants require no soil.
Whatever you choose to plant, you may want to consider adding a grow light or two. There are special fixtures available, or you can simply substitute a grow light bulb for one of your regular lightbulbs. Grow lights can give your plants a boost if you don’t have much indoor sunshine. But if you’ve got an area of your home with a lot of southern exposure, your plants should do just fine with the natural light.
Remember to avoid putting plant containers too near a heat source, and keep them away from drafts and cold window panes. If your home tends to be on the dry side in the winter, a humidifier can help provide sufficient moisture.
You may find once you embark on an indoor produce growing project that you love having fresh veggies through the winter so much that your next home improvement project will be adding on a greenhouse! Or you could keep it smaller and start with an outdoor cold frame to warm up your garden beds and get things going earlier outdoors.