Yep, that's right! Today we are writing about winter gardening indoors.
As the weather continues to get colder for much of the world many people are opting to spend more time indoors. Over the next few months you may find yourself longing for the fresh outdoor air, but if you’re like us here in the Intermountain West, you may prefer not to experience the freezing air hurting your lungs.
The good news is you can still bring the outdoors in by growing inside. There are many plants that can be grown in containers with less light through the winter season. And I’m not just talking about sprouts and microgreens. You can grow herbs like chives, rosemary, parsley, basil, thyme, mint, and oregano. Or, you can supplement your regular groceries with fresh lettuce, celery, and small onion varieties like scallions.
Growing indoors can be done by using the light of a south facing window, or with the assistance of a grow light. The best method will depend on what you are growing and what your local climate is like. For areas like Utah with cold and dark winters herbs like cilantro and chives can do just fine with light from a window. For herbs that prefer more light, using the assistance of a grow light would be a wise choice.
Take this opportunity to try out some different varieties you aren’t familiar with. For example, not all basils are the same. With some slight differences, using different varieties of fresh herbs can elevate your cooking with a little extra kick that can’t be found on the grocery store shelves. If you enjoy a citrusy flavor try our Lemon basil, or for a more spicy influence to your food plant the Spicy Globe basil. Adding these fresh herbs to your winter cooking can make all the difference. The best part is that you will already have a young plant to add to your outdoor garden in the spring.
To get started today use a container that allows for good drainage. I reccomend using one of our square or rectangle growing trays that can be found on our supplies page. To keep your growing area clean and tidy, plant in a tray with holes. Then, place that tray within one without holes. This will allow you to bottom water.
Remember that your plants shouldn't just sit in standing water. Bottom watering requires you to add water between the trays. Allow a few minutes for the soil and roots to soak up the water it needs.
If you added too much water drain the excess away. This will prevent molding and root rot. Bottom watering is recommended for most plants you grow indoors because it helps prevent mold growth. This method is especially recommended for houseplants.
Have you ever had herb butter before? This winter is the perfect time to make your own. Because it doesn’t require a lot of plant material you can use small harvests from your indoor plants throughout the season. It's as simple as softening a stick of butter, adding in whatever herbs you want, mix the butter and herbs together, shape if you would like, cool to harden, and enjoy. You may quickly find yourself known for the best buttered bread on the block!
About the Author
I'm Ashleigh Smith, a native to Northern Utah. I first gained a love of gardening with my grandmother as I helped her each summer. I decided to make a career of it and have recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. My studies have focused on plant production while I also have experience in Nursery & Garden Center Operations.
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Ellen S Best
Growing herbs inside…. do you mean with lights or just on a window sill?
What type of container are you recommending to use for your indoor garden? I’ve grown indoor salad greens in a 6” deep container approximately 1’ x 2 ‘ with a solid bottom. I eventually had mold problems due to drainage issues.
I’ve tried growling veggies/herbs indoors in winter twice with just the light of a south facing window and there just wasn’t enough daylight- they sprouted fine but got leggy really quick. My climate is temperate during the day so was able to salvage some. This year I direct sowed outdoors and everything would have been fine but miscalculated direct sun hours & poor things won’t reach maturity:( It’s a process for sure!
Mark, you might want to grow microgreens instead. They make amazing salads and grow really well in 1020 flats. I put potting soil in a 1020 tray with drain holes and put it into a 1020 solid tray so I can water from underneath and avoid mold and drainage issues.
In response to some of your comments herb can be grown indoors using just natural light or the assistance of a grow light depending on your local climate and home design. You are really going to have to try it out to find what works best for you. When it comes to mold issues there is a good likelihood it is occurring because of too much water like Gail mentioned. Like they also said nestling a tray with holes into a solid bottom tray will help reduce mold issues. Mold isn’t 100% preventable because there are mold spores often in the air. You mostly have control over reducing the conditions it needs to grow on your plants. Don’t over water, clean your containers after each use, and adjust the air circulation in your growing area if possible.
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