Usually, during the winter fresh local food options become severely limited, especially if (like us) you’re based up North. Don’t get us wrong; we love pumpkins, potatoes, and other root vegetables, but after a while we find ourselves craving something green!
The good news is that with the right equipment and a little bit of know-how, it’s now easier than ever to grow your own fresh healthy food right at home. Not only will it be more nutrient-dense than the stuff you buy from the supermarket (which has likely traveled thousands of miles to get to you) but it’s also going to taste a million times better.
Here are our Top 5 Tips For Indoor Gardening In Winter
Let there be light!
During the winter there’s way less natural light. How much less? That depends on your location and the angle of the sun at wherever you call home, but after accounting for shorter days, lower angles, and a thicker piece of atmosphere to pass through – the intensity of your winter sun could be as much as 75 – 90% less intense than what you’d normally receive in summer.
Unless you’re incredibly lucky, growing in winter is going to require supplemental light. This is a subject we’ve spent a LOT of time on. We have an entire YouTube playlist dedicated to it, as well as several other blogs – this one being a good place to start.
Most herbs and vegetables are going to prefer a temperate climate and will prefer not to be subjected to temperatures below about 50 F. Although they might survive at temps below this, their growth is likely to be much slower. The are a ton of different ways to warm a plant – the most obvious of which is to rely on the same form of climate control you do – which might be centralized or running through your entire home. If that’s not the case, and your garden is located somewhere a little cooler, then a lesser-known fact you should be aware of is that the root-zone temperature is actually much more important than the foliage temperature. By keeping the root zone warm, plants are able to tolerate ambient temperatures close to zero. Check out this rooftop hydroponic farm in New York, How is this possible? They have heaters in the water.
Heat mats are a great way to heat your plants from underneath. We’ve linked an example from Amazon below (note: this is an affiliate link and we do make a small commission if you purchase this product via it. It won’t cost you any more to use our link, but if you’ve found this website useful it’s an easy way to help keep us in business!)
Fertilizer / Feeding
With lower temperatures and less light, your plants are going to grow quicker. That means they’re also going to consume less nutrients or food. If you’re supplementing your garden with any type of nutrients during the winter, then it’s probably a good idea to ease off a little until the spring.
Clean the leaves
Yep, you heard that right. This is less of an issue for edible plants since their leaves are fast-growing, but for slower growing plants (such as decorative ones) or ones that have particularly big leaves, it’s worth keeping them clean. Just grab a damp cloth and very gently wipe them down. Why? This removes accumulated dust which means whatever light is available is more likely to be available to the plants.
Watch the moisture
Plants are sensitive to moisture in 2 areas; above and below the surface. Be mindful of the humidity in your home over winter, especially if you use a type of climate control at home that produces dry heat (which many do). If your winter heating is also removing moisture from the air, you may want to look at trying to enclose your garden partially or trying to create a micro-climate for it using a humidifier (yes, another affiliate link).
The other area to be mindful of moisture is with your watering. Just like the nutrients we mentioned above, plants are also going to drink less when they have less light. Over-watering is likely to cause root-rot, so we recommend backing off on the watering a little and making sure you have a free draining soil if that’s the way you’re growing.
So; ready to give it a shot? Our Herb Garden Trio contains everything you need to get started today. We also have a blog that covers our favorite herbs to grow in winter – all of which you’ll find in the Herb Seed Collection (below).
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