Winter Gardening: Extend Your Growing Season With These Ideas

Growing In the Winter

Now that winter is here, the joys of gardening have to be put on hold until next year. No more garden-fresh vegetables or herbs. The only thing we can rely on is our canned vegetables for that home-fresh taste. For those of us who can’t wait until spring to stretch our green thumbs, there are a number of ways you can grow your own gardens in the winter. Take a look at these creative ways you can extend your growing season.

Plant a Fall Garden

One way to get vegetables in the winter is to plant hardy crops in the fall. Crops such as collards, cabbage, and kale can remain productive well into winter if protected by a cold frame. Plant in early September or from seed in August. You can plant the seeds directly into your garden or you can start them indoors and transplant them after four to six weeks.

Indoor Herb Garden

Bring your garden indoors by planting an indoor herb garden. Herbs are very easy to grow indoors and they fit well on windowsills. They do best in windows that face north or south so they can get the most sunlight. Herbs are very temperamental to temperature fluctuations so make sure there aren’t any cold drafts coming through your windows. Need some ideas?

Here are some common herbs that do well indoors.

  • Sage

Just the smell of sage can fill your head with holiday memories. That’s because it’s one of the main ingredients in turkey stuffing. One plant can last you a long time and the flavor only increases with age.

  • Basil

Basil is a staple of any Italian recipe. Not only does it make any dish taste better but it can also keep pests at bay. Basil will continue to grow so don’t be afraid to pick a few leaves off regularly. Dry what you don’t pick and keep it on hand for homemade sauces and dips.herbs growing in indoor pots

  • Thyme

Thyme can enhance the flavors of chicken, pork, soups, and potatoes. Thyme prefers to be in full sun but does not need to be watered regularly. For best taste, harvest just before it flowers.

  • Mint

Mint is always good to have on hand for desserts, salads, teas, and of course mojitos. Let’s not forget the pleasant aroma.

Use Your Sunroom or Enclosed Porch

If you can’t give up your larger plants like tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers you can bring those indoors as well. If you have a sunroom or enclosed porch why not turn it into your own greenhouse. These rooms are ideal because they are temperature-controlled and have plenty of windows for sunlight. 

Cold Frame Gardening

Cold frame gardening is actually an ancient technique that has been used for thousands of years by people living in cold climates. In recent years it has been catching on among garden enthusiasts who can’t seem to put down the trowel in the winter. Think about walking through the snow to your garden and picking everything you need for a fresh salad. Seems impossible, doesn’t it. Not with cold frame gardening. There are many versions but basically, it is a box sitting on or partially in the ground. It has a transparent lid made of plexiglass or glass that can be opened and closed. And that’s it! As the sun shines through the clear lid of the box it heats things up, providing an oasis in the winter. You can plant vegetables directly in the ground or put them in pots.

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