Healthy Living: Tips for indoor winter gardening

Healthy Living: Tips for indoor winter gardening

Cold weather doesn’t mean the end of growing season, if you’re willing to get a little creative.

Plenty of vegetables thrive when planted indoors. Among these are a variety of lettuces, arugula, spinach, kale, microgreens, tomatoes, and carrots, just to name a few.

As someone who enjoys salads daily, I chose to grow arugula and butterflayspinach. To start, all you need are a few items that you can find at your local garden center. I used organic non-GMO seed packets, a block of seed-starting mix, water, recycled paper cups, scissors, index cards, and a marker.

I prepared my seed-starting mix by placing the block into an empty bucket and pouring a half-gallon of water on top of it until it expanded. From reading the back of the seed packets, I learned that spacing the seeds 1.5 inches from one another would be optimal for harvesting the leaves at a younger age.

Using scissors, I poked drainage holes in the bottoms of the six-inch deep paper cups. After filling the paper cups about three-quarters of the way with soil, I sowed my seeds and loosely sprinkled a half-inch of soil on top. I used index cards to label the outside of the cups.

In approximately two weeks, the seeds will be germinated and visibly growing. In 35 to 40 days, the arugula and spinach will be ready to harvest. I plan to harvest them by carefully cutting the leaves at the stem, allowing them to stay rooted and continue growing.

Each of these plants need watering every other day. Checking for moisture on the top layer of soil daily will ensure that the seeds don’t dry up.

It’s important to place the plants in an area of your home where direct heat won’t cause the seeds distress. In order to produce a successful harvest, the arugula and spinach will need three to six hours of sunlight per day. The best sunlight for these greens is full to partial, so a sunny window ledge will help them thrive.

If you are especially adventurous, you could grow root vegetables like carrots or tomatoes upside down in a recycled soda bottle. For the more advanced gardener, there are a selection of LED growing lights, and aquaponics systems to choose from at your local gardening center.

But, growing fresh vegetables in your home during the winter months doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. You can even use seeds from vegetables you’ve already purchased to begin your indoor garden oasis. Instead of tossing away stems and seeds from foods you’ve prepared, you can plant them in soil. Ginger, celery, and turmeric are a few of the especially receptive plants whose leftovers you can use to sprout your own garden right from your kitchen.

With some patience, your green thumb can yield an entire salad full of vegetables and herbs you’ve grown all on your own during winter.

Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford resident,  NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris –