The weather is cold outside, snowing, blowing and sleeting. That doesn't mean you can't have fresh vegetables and herbs you've grown yourself. With a little preparation and attention, many veggies grow just fine inside. Surprise your family with crunchy lettuce, crisp spinach and juicy tomatoes in the dead of winter. For best results, select varieties that are bred for container gardening or are dwarf varieties.
Select seeds of fast growing and maturing varieties of loose leaf lettuces. They grow better inside than heading types. Add in some spinach, chard and kale seeds.
Choose a window that gets southern sun for most of the day. Western exposures work as well if there is direct sunlight for at least six hours. Lettuces and herbs aren't quite as fussy about sunlight as tomatoes.
Plant the seeds. Fill pots with potting soil. Pots may vary in size from 6 to 12 inches. Sprinkle the lettuce seeds in one pot, spinach in another and chard and kale seeds in a third. Press the seeds lightly into the soil. Cover the seeds with 1/4 inch of soil, and water them. Cover the pot and soil surface with the black garbage bag. The bag retains moisture and increases the heat in the soil so the seeds germinate more quickly.
Check in five days and then every day to see if the seeds have germinated. Remove the plastic as soon as they do. Harvest when leaves are small.
Buy tomato plants. Sweet 100, patio pick, and cherry tomatoes grow well in pots. They ripen faster than standard-size tomatoes as well.
Place the tomatoes in the pots next to the window. When they start to flower, transplant to a pot two sizes bigger. For example, If the pot they came in is 4 inches, transfer to a 1 gallon container.
Pollinate the flowers by dusting each flower with a soft paint brush, moving from flower to flower. Normally insects would do this job for you outside.
Buy herb plants. Some herbs take quite a while to germinate, and the plants give you a head start. Good ones to try are parsley, basil, rosemary and thyme.
Place the pots in a sunny window. Most herbs will grow just fine for a few months in the pot they came in.
Transplant to larger pots one size up when they begin to look crowded and you see roots coming out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
Harvest the herbs by snipping off leaves with a sharp pair of scissors.
About this Author
Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on GardenGuides.com, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.