How to Grow Salads and Greens Indoors During Winter

Indoor Gardening
Growing Greens Indoors In Winter

Many people love their gardens and are very proud of them. Often, what these gardeners love is all the work needed for maintaining a beautiful garden all year long. Winter is a slow time for gardening, but with a bit of effort, it's possible to maintain your garden even during cold months. The easiest way to achieve this is to move your garden indoors during winter.

These small winter gardens can be fun to make and maintain. They can bring some color to cold winter months and also provide you with some tasty plants and herbs you want to use in your household.

There are many different plants and herbs you can grown indoors during winter. The faster growing a plant is, the better. Another great choice are various types of salads and cooking greens. Salads are ideal for growing in small indoor gardens during winter.

Setting Up Your Indoor Garden

Greenhouses are always a good option for growing plants in winter, but not all people have them. Some gardeners simply wish to have a small garden with only a few plants to take care of during winter months. Indoor gardens are perfect for this.

Salad greens are ideal plants for growing in these small indoor gardens during winter. They can be grown successfully in recycled plastic containers. All they need is enough light, so affordable fluorescent shop lights can do wonders.

To start your winter garden indoors, you should prepare 6 two-bulb shop lights outfitted with full-spectrum grow lights. Install them and suspend them by chains and s-hooks from the ceiling of a desired room in your home. Some people like to use their living room alcove for this purpose. These small gardens are great for growing salad greens during winter.

There are other areas in the house you can use for this purpose. For example, you can easily hand the lights in an attic or a basement. Some people even use a large closet for this purpose. You can use any area in your home, as long as the room maintains steady average temperatures around 50 degrees F. The only other requirement is that the space has an electrical outlet for the lights. That's all you need for growing delicious winter greens.

Another thing to keep in mind are the containers. There are many different types of containers you may wish to use. Recycled polystyrene foam and transparent containers are a good choice. They are inexpensive and can be collected for this purpose. To start your spring transplants, you need to prepare a good mixture of half soiless potting mix and half compost, and you're ready to start your indoors winter garden.

Types of Plants to Grow

The good news is that you can plant many different greens in these small indoor gardens. The best candidates are salads and cooking greens. Other suitable plants are leafy herbs.

You can organize the seeds in many different ways. For example, you can mix together seeds left over from the spring and summer garden and divide them into 3 categories based on similar growth habits and germination. For instance:

  • Group 1: Spinach, chard and beets (for greens).
  • Group 2: Various leaf lettuces
  • Group 3: Kale, argula and leafy Asian brassicas (such as mizuna, bok choi, tatsoi, etc.)

You may also plant some parsley, basil, cilantro and other herbs. For herbs, use smaller, separate containers.

Alternatively, you may choose to buy new seeds to use in your winter garden. If you want to go this way, make sure to choose fast-growing mesclun or braising mixes. They are available by most seeding companies.

When you decide to start your garden, make sure to scatter the seeds thickly across the whole soil surface. After this, cover the seeds with a bit of compost. Provide generous watering with a small watering can.

How to Care For Your Winter Greens Garden

The procedure is easy, but it has to be maintained regularly. Each morning when you get up, turn the lights on. Shut them off in the evening. You also need to think about the appropriate watering. It's best to water the salads and greens every couple of days. You will know when it's the best time for watering because the planting medium will feel dry. In addition to this, once per week or once per 10 days, water them with a weak solution of seaweed and fish emulsion. You will find this mix available at garden stores.

As soon as the plants develop 2 or 3 sets of leaves you should start thinning them. Gently pull them out by the roots and rinse them. After this, they are ready for use in soups or cabbage salads.

When the plants grow bigger, gently harvest the outer leaves and leave the rest to grow. If you don't want to do this you can clip greens from across the whole container using fingernail scissors. If you opt for this, you have to make sure you leave the growing tips so they can produce another crop.

After about 5 weeks you should see some impressive results. Containers will be full of robust greens such as two-person salads. They will be produced about three to four times a week for about 6 weeks. When it comes to greens, you can expect to have many handfuls you can use for tasty winter soups.

Photo credit: Mark Levisay

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