A winter garden indoors or out, takes a bit of planning. How to create an edible indoor winter garden is to make room for a welcome leafy corner in your home – even in the dead of winter, even in the smallest of spaces.
How to Plant-
You can either buy seedlings or you can grow them from the seed, which takes more time. You can save seeds of peppers and tomatoes, lemon and orange seeds. Dry the seeds for up to two weeks before planting them.
Where to plant –
Buy some small to mid-sized clay, aluminum or plastic pots. Buy lava rocks and potting soil mix from Lowes, Home Depot or a plant nursery. Now find a south-facing window in a sunny corner of your home for the placement of your indoor plants, and you’re off to a great start!
What to plant – There are quite a few choices.
Herbs such as Basil, Oregano, Sage, Lavender, Mint, Thyme, Rosemary, and other edible herbs may be grown year-round in small containers on a kitchen window sill.
Basil – Some people grow basil for its leaves and remove the flowers. However, you can also sprinkle basil flowers on a salad or over pasta as a garnish because they are edible. They also make great tea! The flowers taste similar to the leaves but have a slightly milder flavor. You can still eat the leaves after flowering, but remove the stems as it develops a bitter flavor.
Sage – When the sage plants are small, you should mist them with water to keep the soil moist. This is true of most herbs. However, when they reach maturity, you should only water the plant when the soil surrounding the plant is dry to the touch.
To add herbs to a dish, cut an entire stem or just pinch a leaf at a time.
Mint – Mint performs well in sun-lit areas but may some protection from direct sun. They can grow to be 1 or 2 feet tall either indoors in a pot or even in a bottle of water. I like to add mint leaves as a garnish to my breakfast scrambled eggs. It adds texture and color as well as adding an element of excitement to the humble eggs. Click the image below to see my recipe for Northern Indian Spicy Scrambled Eggs AKA Egg Bhurji garnished with a handful of mint leaves for contrasting textures and flavor.
Rosemary – Thrives in sunny locations that receive 6-8 hours of direct sun. It is best to water it when the soil feels dry. Re-pot as the plant gets larger and the roots fill the container. Needs frequent pruning. Cut off stems with a pair of small kitchen scissors to use in cooking as needed. Rosemary and thyme are good choices for stuffing game hens and a popular garnish for roast chicken.
Cherry Tomatoes – These small tomatoes, grow on fast-growing plants and usually produce high yields in about 60 to 70 days. However, tomatoes are a summer plant so winter tomatoes will grow less prolifically than the summer varieties. When planting them in pots, a container measuring roughly 15- 20 inches in diameter is ideal. The container should be able to hold 5 gallons of soil for best results. Be sure to use one pot per plant. Tomatoes normally need at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day, but that’s not possible when you’re growing them indoors in winter. They respond well to artificial light.
Citrus – Choose a two-to three-year-old dwarf lemon tree if you wish to see it produce fruits and blossoms right away. Select a deep potting container with adequate drainage. Or as an inexpensive alternative, use seeds of lemons from the grocery store to grow your lemon tree. First, fill a bowl with water and soak the seeds for eight hours. This will help speed up germination. Spread the lemon seeds evenly over the soil surface while they’re still moist. Buy a slightly acidic potting mix.
Soil should be well-drained for lemon trees. Keep it moist, but not wet. Select a saucer large enough to fit under the container. Find a sunny spot in your home for your tree to grow. Lemon trees require full sunlight.
Coffee grounds are a good plant food for lemon trees. Every 1-2 months place mulch near the trunk. Hard-boiled eggshells, are also good as they are an excellent source of calcium. This will make give the citrus trees shiny green leaves.
Microgreens –Microgreens germinate and grow quicker than regular varieties. They have more nutrient density than mature leaves, although this varies from species to species, and soil conditions. Microgreens may need a grow light.
Use a shallow tray for planting. Fill the tray with organic soil. Place in a sunny spot in a south-facing window or use some LED lights. However, LEDs have many different industrial applications, so they’re not all suited for plant growth. To grow plants, you need LED grow-lights that emit a specific color spectrum and a sufficient intensity level. During the first 2-5 days, the sprouts don’t require light. After 2-5 days, the microgreens should be ready for indirect sunlight. Be careful not to expose the plants to direct, hot sunlight as this can damage the delicate microgreens.
Microgreen Seeds – Sow the seeds thickly, then gently tamp into the growing medium. Sow small seeds at a density of approximately 10–12 seeds per square inch of tray surface, and larger or medium-sized seeds at a density of 6–8 seeds per square inch. Or you may opt to grow your microgreens in water. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil where your plants live in an aquatic-based environment and receive their nutrients and oxygen from water, instead of from the soil.
Some popular microgreens are Kale, Watercress Spinach, Arugula, Radish, Beets, Dill, etc. These make for fresh, ready to cook ingredients for delicious meals all year round such as Watercress Sandwich or Spinach & Arugula Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese and my Spicy Kale & Eggs – check out recipe by clicking on the above image .