Winter is a tough time for those of us who love our fresh herbs and greens. During these cold months, we must lean on dried herbs and the dull vegetables in the grocery store that have obviously been shipped across the world. Luckily, it’s easy to supplement in some truly fresh herbs and greens using just a few pots close to a window.
You may not be able to grow all the vegetables you want this way, but you can liven up salads, soups, and more with minimal effort. It doesn’t matter if you have room for dozens of plants or just one. Every bit helps you save money, eat better, and feel healthier.
Choose an area of your home that gets plenty of light. During winter, this is usually a south facing window. You can bring mature plants in from outdoors before it gets too cold. If they are already in pots, this is easy, but don’t be afraid to dig up ones that you had planted in your garden or planter boxes. It’s true that some may not survive the transition, but when you know the ice will kill them if you don’t, why not give them a chance? Dig them up on a cool day before frost hits and make the transfer quickly. A cool day is important as it means less shock to the roots.
You can also buy small seedlings to plant, or even start from seed, but you should know your seeds and seedlings will have much more difficulty getting off the ground during winter. Start them early if you can, while there is still some decent light left. And don’t let the leaves of any plant touch the icy glass of the window. Those cold panes can still damage and even kill your plants.
Don’t be surprised if your plants slow down a bit or drop a few of their older leaves. They are getting less light and will adjust to the change by growing new leaves designed to capture all they can and they’ll take their growth down a notch or two. These plants will still be more flavorful than what you’ll find in a typical grocery store. If you want them to do better, you may have to invest in a few grow lights. These can be found as LED panels that use very little electricity, though they can be expensive.
Make sure you water frequently, but not too much. The dry air during winter that cracks your hands, aided by your heating system, also dries out your plants. Water them often, but make sure they have plenty of drainage and don’t leave them drowning in soggy soil all the time. This will rot the roots and they will die. They also don’t need fertilizer during winter as they are not growing as rapidly.
Plants that do well indoors include rosemary, oregano, chives, basil, thyme, marjoram, mint, lemon balm, and sage. Smaller or dwarf varieties of vegetables can do well too. Try small tomatoes, peppers, beans, lettuce, carrots, and radishes. Microgreens are another great option. You simply plant your favorite greens and harvest the leaves and tender stems just two weeks later. Microgreens are just as flavorful as and even more nutritious than the adult versions. You can have fresh salads and amazing soups, year round.
Another option is to sprout. Sprouts require very little light, grow quickly, and make nutritious additions to stir fry, salads, and more. Sprouts are ready to eat in just a few days and they take up very little room too. Pick up a sprouting kit if you are unfamiliar or new to sprouting or grow them easily in a quart jar if you know what you’re doing. There are so many flavors and types to explore. Bean, lentil, alfalfa, radish, quinoa, and even chia seeds make amazing sprouts.
Don’t let a little chilly weather take away your greens. Start your own little indoor garden today.