After the cold settles over your green patch and the soil freezes solid, you can take your gardening indoors.
You can successfully grow plants indoors in a heated garage or on a windowsill using indoor potting soil or potting mix. Grow lights can make your life as an indoor gardener easier, but there are plants you can grow with window light alone.
Here are some of the easiest vegetables to grow indoors this winter.
1. Leafy greens
Spinach, kale, rocket, and lettuce are just some of the healthy leafy greens that you can grow indoors. Most will only grow to baby size, it’s true, but that doesn’t make them any less healthy or tasty. Spinach and kale can grow in just four weeks.
Keep them by a south-facing window to make them grow denser. The more sunlight they get, the better. You can also grow them exclusively under artificial light—they’ll need about 10-12 hours of light every day.
In terms of temperature, leafy greens grow best at cooler temperatures around 15-16 degrees Celsius. So, think twice about growing them in a warm living room.
Tip: Sow seeds every few weeks for a constant supply.
2. Spring onions
Spring onions can grow indoors without grow lights. Keep them near a window or make sure that they get at least a few hours of filtered light every day.
They don’t need much space either. You can plant them in any spare pots you may have after annuals die down in autumn. Just make sure to clean the pots and renew the soil before putting them in.
Did you know? You can grow fresh spring onions by replanting the leftover root end of a spring onion after you’ve eaten the green on top.
Sweet, crunchy and packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals, carrots are another reliable crop you can grow indoors. Carrots need at least 12 hours of light and like temperatures around 15-16 degrees Celsius.
Depending on the variety of carrots you choose, use a pot or container that’s 8-12 inches deep. Unless you plant carrots in deep soil, they may not grow properly. You also want to avoid crowding them together—give them plenty of space to develop properly.
Tip: Choose a quick-growing variety so you can harvest the carrots before the end of winter.
4. Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes are the easiest tomatoes to grow indoors. You’ll have to provide them with optimum light and temperature conditions for the best results. If you have a heated greenhouse or spare room for plant-growing, you can safely add them to your crops.
Tip: Cherry tomatoes grow best at temperatures between 23-26 degrees Celsius. They also need at least 15-16 hours of light each day.
5. Garlic greens
Next time you come across a sprouting garlic bulb, don’t wonder whether you should eat it, plant it in a pot, water it, and place it on a windowsill or table near a window.
A few weeks later, you’ll be able to harvest a garlic green to add to omelettes, salads, soups, or stews. Harvest once the green reaches about 8 inches. Cut only what you use.
Tip: The quality of garlic sprouts grown this way declines over time. You may want to keep planting new garlic bulbs to ensure a fresh supply throughout winter.
6. Chilli peppers
Do you like spicy dishes? You could grow your own hot chilli peppers, including habanero and jalapeno peppers.
Hot peppers don’t need a lot of space to grow indoors—a spacious pot will do. But they do need at least 10-12 hours of light every day. In terms of temperature, they grow best at around 21 degrees Celsius.
Tip: Smaller chilli pepper varieties are the easiest to grow indoors.
You may have heard that radishes are a good winter crop for greenhouses. If you forgot to plant some in your greenhouse during the autumn or had no more space for them, don’t worry. You can always grow them indoors in containers.
Radishes don’t need a lot of light, and they aren’t pretentious about the temperature either. They can grow in as little as five weeks however, they don’t grow well if you crowd them in a small pot.
Tip: When growing radishes, it’s often better to use longer, rectangular containers such as those for windowsill flower displays. In these containers, you’ll be less likely to bunch them together.
8. Sweet or regular potatoes
You can grow potatoes indoors with ease, provided you have enough space for them. You can use a potato grow bag, sack, or large container. A closed balcony or porch is often the best place to grow potatoes in winter.
You’ll need a sprouted potato to begin with. Cut it into chunks and plant these in soil with the sprouting side up, 8-9 inches deep. Potatoes take about two months to grow indoors.
Good to know: Sprouted store-bought potatoes don’t often make the best crops. It’s better to buy sprouted seed potatoes from a specialist retailer.
Don’t have much space for growing vegetables indoors? Try growing herbs instead. A line of small pots on a south-facing windowsill can provide enough space for an assortment of herbs.
Some of the best herbs to grow indoors include mint, sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, and dill.
Tip: Herbs love the sun—they need at least 12 hours of sunlight every day. They do best at temperatures around 21 degrees Celsius.
Sprouts are nutritious and very easy to grow. You don’t even need soil to grow them indoors. You can grow sprouts from mung beans, lentils, alfalfa, and more.
You’ll need a jar with a perforated lid for each type of sprout that you want to grow. Put the beans or legumes in separate jars. Soak them until the water barely covers them and leave them to germinate under normal lighting conditions. They will grow without needing to be exposed to direct sunlight.
Tip: Rinse the sprouts and change the water in the jars at least once a day.
You can think of microgreens as plants you harvest as soon as they develop their first leaves. Despite their small size, they contain a lot more nutrients than mature plants.
Leafy greens are the easiest microgreens to grow. Think kale, arugula, or collard greens. You can also grow beets, radishes, turnips, or peas as microgreens. You can experiment with different plants.
To grow microgreens, soak the seeds and place them in a seedling tray. Next, cover them with a thin layer of soil that needs to be kept moist. Use scissors to harvest the leaves as soon as they grow above the soil.
Good to know: You can also grow microgreens, leafy greens, and other vegetables indoors hydroponically, in water rather than soil. The simplest way to do this is to get a mini hydroponic system for indoor gardening. Some are small enough for a kitchen worktop.
Where to grow vegetables indoors in winter?
During winter, you can grow vegetables in a temperature-controlled greenhouse, garage, shed, or in your house, including a closed balcony or porch.
What is the best location for growing plants indoors in winter?
Place indoor plants before a south-facing window to maximise the amount of sun they get. Vegetables need, at the very least, 4-6 hours of light every day.
Should I use grow lights?
During dark winter days, your indoor vegetables may not get enough light. This can affect their growth rate and health. Grow lights such as fluorescent bulbs help you make up for all the sunlight your plants are missing. So, if you’re serious about growing vegetables indoors during winter, you may want to buy some.
How much should I water vegetables I grow indoors?
You won’t have to water them much. Keep the soil moist but not damp using a spray bottle.