We had our first frost here this week, and the forecast bluntly indicates that the second wind of Indian summer days are done for. It's time to finally cross the finish line of the outdoor gardening season in the Northeast and bring container gardens inside to grow fresh food for the winter season.
Living in a place with an actual winter involving snowfall and freezing temperatures (we can't all live in SoCal), doesn't mean you can't grow food all year round. For others in warmer climates, a tiny apartment doesn't have to limit your ability to grow your own either!
#WinterisComing, and the all-too-familiar lack of daylight is sinking in. The fragrant waft given off by a freshly picked sprig of basil will become a far-off distant memory, and sweet, juicy tomatoes have come and quickly gone again. (Ever to return?! Keep reading...there's hope.)
Inside, sipping a steaming mug of coffee, perhaps you’re dreading the thought of running out to the grocery store. That tasteless bag of cardboard/lettuce is NOT worth it to continue on your daily dose of greens. Nor do old, dried herbs from the back of the spice cabinet resemble freshly-harvested leaves for brighting homemade Tzatziki Dip.
Well the heat is on, keeping you warm, so why not grow some fresh food indoors too? The most important factor for planting inside is sunlight— and we can get around that.
Regardless of how much experience you have growing fresh food, or the budget you’re on, here are 5 tips for how to design your own indoor garden. Pull yourself out of the produce aisle-prison, and let's grow!
5 TIPS FOR DESIGNING AN EASY, INDOOR GARDEN
1. Keep the tools SIMPLE.
Use an easy setup, there's no need for expensive bells and whistles. Make planting, growing and maintaining your garden as simple as possible. As we like to say… grow the kind of garden made for “busy” people (AKA, also OK if it’s your first time).
Especially if you’ve never grown fresh food before, it’s hard to put in a huge investment into tools without knowing what the results will be. For the highest chance of success and most delicious harvests, the best produce will come from a container garden using fresh, organic potting soil. Greens like spinach, kale and others will take on the taste and nutrients from the soil they're grown in, resulting in the sweetness found in farmers market-dreams.
What you'll need:
- A garden container
- Saucer (to catch excess water)
- Fresh potting soil
- A reliable (and energy efficient) grow light + stand to hang it on
- A timer to allow the light to turn on for 14 hours/day (plants need sleep too!)
- Your favorite selection of seeds to plant
2. Grow fresh herbs, greens or vegetables that you already use.
Flat Leaf Parsley
One great thing about planting a container garden, is that you can select many different types of plants to grow in one place. That way, a variety of flavors can be right at your fingertips, growing in your own home! It doesn’t get more local than kitchen-to-cutting board.
Do you add kale to your daily Green Smoothie? Or like to whip up an easy batch of fresh pesto for entertaining? Grow your own ingredients indoors year-round to avoid being at the mercy of wilted, produce isle options. Not to mention, no one wants a winter tomato-- especially if you have a kid who can't live without the ripest reds for snacks.
Because herbs and salad greens can lose 80% of their nutrients after harvest, these are great varieties to have on hand (and stay as healthy as you were all summer!). All herbs, greens, and fruit will continue to grow back every couple of days for 3-6 months, to enjoy frequent harvests and plenty of rewards.
3. For entertaining year-round, grow unique varieties to be the hostess with the mostest.
When hosting dinner parties and making cocktails & snacks for friends, watch jaws drop when you reach to an *unassuming* plant next to you, and snip off a sprig of Thai basil to add to drinks, or pick dill leaves to finish off some easy salmon-dilly stacks for appetizers. These types of simple ingredients are both quick to grow, and a quick route to improve your entertaining-game!
Do you throw down for Taco Tuesdays at your place? Plant the recipe-curated Tacos Seedsheet, and just 3 weeks later, you've got yourself a built-in excuse to hang out with friends and make rainbow tacos (...and margaritas).
4. Design for aesthetics to have fresh food while beautifying your home.
Choose complimentary-colored and textured plants, because after all they will be growing in your own home, so why not make it beautiful too? Salad greens such as Red Russian Kale and Purple Mizuna Greens contribute different hues that contrast with soft, green spinach leaves. Bronze Fennel is a nice feathery-addition to an array of other aromatic herbs. Try growing Pea Shoots or Petite Snap Greens for vining plants that will cascade down the side of the container garden for added beauty and volume.
Are you a tried and true basil-lover? It's no wonder, just smelling basil leaves can relieve anxiety! With many different types of basil, you can grow varied colors, textures and tastes, as well as an extremely fragrant garden in one container.
5. Save time (+ headaches), grow successful harvests from a garden that texts you.
Maybe you've killed a cactus before? We hear you. But, with an indoor garden full of edible varieties, not only will the plants beautify your space, but these are actually varieties worth taking care of.
Make this green thumb-process ridiculously easy for yourself, and Register your Seedsheet for personalized notifications. Video tutorials will be sent straight to your phone throughout your growing journey, so you’ll know exactly how to maintain each variety as it’s growing, from seed to supper. A bounty of big harvests is the name of the game, to #SeedsheetSuccess and beyond.What are you waiting for? Cure the winter blues and plant some delicious foods!
What are you waiting for? Cure the winter blues and plant some delicious foods!