The onset of winter does not necessarily mean you have to give up your gardening activities. Start an indoor garden to show off your green thumb and grow healthy, nutritious vegetables for yourself and your family. Not only will indoor gardening keep you busy during the cold winter, but you can enjoy the vegetables long before they arrive in the market in spring. Although it sounds difficult, with the right containers and sufficient lighting, you are well on your way to growing a winter vegetable garden indoors.
Arrange containers or flower pots on a flat surface such as a table or shelving unit. Select a heated basement or warm garage that is not frequented by people or pets. Make sure each container has adequate drainage holes in the base, or drill holes, if necessary. Lay netting, broken crockery pieces or gravel over the drainage holes to prevent soil from seeping out.
Mix equal amounts of good quality potting soil and organic compost. Pour the mixture into each container until it is 2 inches below the rim.
Poke a stick into the potting soil to make small small holes for seedlings, spaced 2 to 3 inches apart. Lower a seedling in each hole and tamp the soil over its roots to remove air pockets. If planting seeds, follow packet directions for appropriate depth and spacing.
Supplement natural lighting with artificial lighting to provide indoor vegetables the necessary light and warmth they need to survive. Mount a grow light or full spectrum fluorescent light 6 to 8 inches above the container, and set it up to a timer so it remains on for 12 to 14 hours every day. Raise the lighting unit as the vegetables grow to provide the required spacing needed to prevent foliage from burning.
Water the containers well to ensure the soil is evenly moist. Container soil dries more quickly than garden soil, requiring frequent watering. Plan to water every other day or when the top 1 inch of soil feels dry.
Feed the indoor vegetables a balanced fertilizer every two weeks. Make sure the type you use is formulated for indoor vegetables.
Spray antibacterial soap solution to deter pests such as aphids, spider mites and whiteflies.