Five Tips for Indoor Gardening This Winter
It’s time to admit that winter is just around the corner. But just because Boston will soon be frigid and covered in impossible amounts of snow (we’re not looking forward to it, either), doesn’t mean you have to give up your farm-fresh produce. We asked Jessie Banhazl, founder of urban farming initiative Green City Growers, for her indoor gardening tips for the fall and winter months.
1. Select your crops wisely.
No matter how much you love squash or eggplant, Banhazl says that they’re not the best option for indoor growing because they need a lot of light. She recommends staying away from root vegetables and plants with an edible fruit in favor of herbs or greens. “If you do have sunlight, you can grow perennial herbs pretty well,” she says, suggesting parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil. “The lettuce family will do pretty well, so you could do mixed greens, you could do head lettuce.”
2. Choose the right window.
Since winter sunlight is scare in Boston, Banhazl says it’s crucial to pick a south-facing window that gets as much sun as possible. “The sun is lower in the sky [in winter], which can be a benefit in growing because sometimes you don’t get the sunlight through a window [in summer] because it’s literally over your house,” she explains. “But when you’re growing in a window in the winter, the sun’s lower so it’s nice and bright.”
3. Assess your apartment’s heating.
Banhazl says that those who live in a hot, dry apartment will need to water their plants far more frequently than those in a cooler home. “Everybody has totally different heating in their apartment, and that means pots are going to dry out at a different pace for everybody,” she says. “It’s important to just keep your plants moist and get on a watering schedule that is appropriate for your apartment.”
4. Don’t obsess over starting from scratch.
You don’t need to grow directly from seeds: Banhazl says that route is not always a realistic one when it comes to gardening indoors. “The expectation for indoor growing should be that the plants themselves are not going to yield a huge amount of growth, but if it’s sizable to start with—if you bring in a full-sized plant and put it in the windowsill—it will definitely stay the size that it is,” she says. “So as long as it’s a sizable herb plant, you can still harvest from it all winter.”
5. Consider moving it outside when the weather gets warm.
If you have the space, Banhazl says that winter-grown plants can thrive outside once the weather warms. If you’re land-less, indoor gardening is still a great option. “It can just be really, really valuable to have things growing and living in your apartment,” she stresses. “Fresh herbs just have a totally different flavor profile than dried herbs, so you can add a little bit of summer to your cooking even if it’s the dead of winter.”