5 edible plants you can grow indoors in fall and winter

Are you a gardening enthusiast who doesn't want to let the colder months limit your green thumb? Or do you want to surprise your loved ones with fresh vegetables on the Christmas table? You're in luck! With a little creativity and some indoor gardening know-how, you can cultivate a variety of edible plants even during the fall and winter seasons. In this article, we'll explore five delicious and easy-to-grow options: cucumbers, tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, and herbs.

Seed selection doesn't differ from choosing seeds in the spring or summer, as you can read in the previous article. However, further cultivation varies and has its nuances, so keep reading this article to discover all the intricacies and subtleties of growing vegetables and greens during the fall and winter.

Growing cucumbers indoors

And although the optimal time for growing cucumbers indoors occurs when the winter day lengthens (February-March), with additional lighting, you can harvest them much earlier.

By selecting early-maturing varieties (which ripen in 7-9 weeks), planting them in early November, you can still surprise your family with fresh cucumbers for Christmas.

Cucumbers should be grown in containers or pots with a volume of at least 1,5 gallons (about 5 liters) and drainage holes at the bottom. Fill the container with a layer of expanded clay or broken bricks, and on top of that, moisten the soil.

Cucumbers love warmth and humidity and are sensitive to drafts. So, moderately water them with lukewarm settled water every morning, and when using additional lighting, water twice a day. When the seedlings have their first leaves, thin out the plants, leaving only the strongest ones.

At the stage of 5 true leaves, provide young cucumbers with support and pinch their tops to encourage lateral growth. And don't forget about fertilization; it should be regular, every month (first at the stage of 2-3 true leaves). Fertilizer can be a complete one.

Growing tomatoes indoors

Planting and growing indoor tomatoes isn't much different from their cultivation in outdoor garden beds, but it does have its peculiarities. For instance, the plant requires light and warmth. Therefore, during the short winter days, tomatoes need to be supplemented with a grow light.

When transplanting the seedlings, place them in a container with drainage holes, with a volume ranging from 1 to 2,5 gallons (around 3 to 10 liters) depending on the variety, round or cylindrical in shape. Ensure there is a mandatory drainage layer at the bottom.

Water sparingly, similar to outdoor soil, but generously (twice a week) without over-saturating the soil or wetting the stems.

Once fruits begin to appear, pinch off the top to redirect the plant's energy into ripening them. To prevent stem elongation, rotate the pot towards the light.

And don't forget to regularly fertilize your tomatoes with a special, all-purpose fertilizer every two weeks.

Expect to harvest your crop in approximately 90-100 days.

Growing peppers indoors

For growing pepper seeds on your windowsill, much like cucumbers and tomatoes, it's best to choose dwarf, self-pollinating early-maturing hybrids and varieties. Since peppers are perennial plants, they can grow in pots without transplanting for up to 5 years!

To ensure a bountiful harvest, cultivate the plant in the sunniest and warmest room. In case of insufficient light, use additional lighting.

You also need to monitor the soil moisture in the pots, preventing it from drying out. Water the plant with lukewarm settled water and regularly fertilize it with comprehensive fertilizers containing micronutrients.

It's also essential to pollinate the flowers by yourself to enable them to fertilize and produce peppers for you.

Growing indoor peppers will not only provide you with these fresh vegetables but also purify the room's air from harmful microbes.

Growing radish indoors

Radishes are considered short-day plants, requiring around 10-12 hours of light. However, when planted in the fall, you'll still need to provide additional lighting; otherwise, they may become leggy. Excessive light, on the other hand, can cause the plants to bolt. Therefore, when selecting seeds, pay attention to not only early-maturing varieties but also those resistant to bolting, drought, and insufficient lighting.

You can grow radishes in pots or containers, as long as the containers have a depth of at least 6 inches (15 cm). They should also have drainage holes to allow excess water to escape, and use trays to catch any runoff.

After moistening the soil, sow the seeds to a depth of 0.5 inches (1.5 cm), cover them with soil, and spray the surface lightly with a sprayer. Cover with plastic wrap. Once the seedlings emerge, remove the covering, and move the radish containers to a glass-enclosed balcony or another room where the temperature doesn't exceed 46°F (8°C). After 3-4 days, when the plants develop roots and become acclimated, return them to the room, placing them away from radiators.

Caring for radishes is straightforward: regularly water both the soil and the air around the plants, ventilate the room, and harvest on time.

Radishes mature in 14-18 days after the emergence of seedlings.

Growing greenery indoors

And, of course, the simplest plants you can quickly grow on your windowsill are herbs. Even a child can harvest herbs in a pot. Green onions and cress can be grown even without soil. Mint can be cultivated right on branches purchased from the store by placing them in water.

However, there are some herbs that are not as easy to grow because they require additional lighting and a more attentive approach. But if you don't want to or can't do that, you can consider growing microgreens.

Embracing indoor gardening during the fall and winter months allows you to enjoy fresh, homegrown produce year-round. By providing the right care, attention, and the ideal growing conditions, you can savor the taste of your homegrown harvest even when it's cold outside.