Food Crops & EdiblesGreenhouse & Indoor Gardening

How to Grow Indoor Vegetables for Winter

Limited outdoor growing space or cold winters may have you missing fresh homegrown vegetables. Make this the winter you try growing a few vegetables in a sunny window or under grow lights.

Dwarf sugar snap peas sprouting under grow lights.

Greens are one of the easiest to grow indoors. Most leafy vegetables tolerate the lower light indoors, require minimal space, and prefer cool temperatures. Select a container with drainage holes that will fit near a sunny window or under an artificial light set up. Keep the artificial lights about six inches above the top of these and other plants. Fill the container with a well-drained potting mix and sprinkle seeds of your favorite leafy greens over the soil surface. Lightly cover the seeds and moisten the soil. Remove overcrowded plants to provide sufficient space for the remaining plants to reach full size. Begin harvesting the outer leaves when they are four to six inches tall.

Add some crunch to your salads with quick maturing salad radishes. Plant the seeds ¼” deep and thin to one to two inches apart. Use scissors to the thin the plantings at ground level and use the greens to add a bit of zip to salads and sandwiches.

Expand your indoor edible garden by growing dwarf sugar snap peas. Select shorter varieties that will be easier to train. Patio Pride grows only nine to 16” tall while Sugar Ann and Little Marvel grow up to 18” tall. Plant two seeds in each three-inch pot or several seeds two inches apart in a long rectangular container. Once the seedlings reach two inches tall, thin the plantings. Leave one plant in each individual pot and seedlings spaced four inches apart in larger containers. Cut the extra sprouts at ground level and use them in salads, sandwiches and stir fries. Peas are self-fertile, so no bees are needed. Harvest the pods when they reach the size you prefer.

Don’t forget the tomatoes. These take longer and are a bit more challenging but that is the joy of gardening. Start your plants from seeds if transplants are not available. Consider growing one of the many small-scale tomato varieties that require less space and increase your chance of success. All-America Selections winners Patio Choice Yellow, Lizzano, Torenzo as well as Tiny Tim and Micro tomatoes are some varieties you may want to try. Grow small plants in one- to two-gallon pots and larger varieties in three- to five-gallon size containers. Water thoroughly when the top few inches of soil begin to dry. Once flowers form, lightly shake the stem to aid in pollination.

Growing vegetables indoors is a fun way to enjoy edible gardening year-round. With every planting you’ll increase your overall gardening experience and success.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts the “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Her website is

Photo provided by Melinda Myers.

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