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Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.

Gardening in Winter: Everything You Need to Know About Indoor Agriculture

When we think about the art and science of gardening, our thoughts usually head toward springtime and summer. However, it’s absolutely possible to keep a garden going throughout the winter. You simply need to understand what to plant, when to plant it and how to maintain the best possible growing conditions in your home.

Why to Grow Plants Inside?

Plenty of people would never think to garden inside when it’s cold outdoors. After all, you can always get some food at the local grocery or health store.

Yet many individuals are getting worried that the produce they’re buying during the winter is less-than- nutritional. Besides, there’s nothing like the taste of food you grow yourself.

Which Plants Can Grow the Best Indoors?

Let’s say you don’t have a greenhouse in your backyard, and that you’re going to garden inside your apartment or house. In this case, the climate will probably be around 62 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a common temperature range for human comfort.

In this type of climate, there are several types of plants that do well, including many herbs, avocados, garlic greens, mushrooms, some kinds of salad lettuce and tomatoes.

You can also bring some of your outdoor garden plants, such as a cherry tomato vine or pepper plant, indoors to extend the life of the plant. This can also make next year’s spring and summer planting faster. Some people even claim that this helps enhance the flavor of the veggies or fruits, as the plants are being allowed to mature in a way that wouldn’t be possible if you just replanted every year. While this is debatable, it’s worth gauging for yourself!

How to Prepare for Indoor Gardening

An indoor garden doesn’t have to take up lots of space, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to prepare your home in advance. Make sure you have wide enough window sills, shelves and, if applicable, a corner of a room to take care of your items.

If you have pets, you will want to ensure that your plants are kept away from their curious paws and teeth. Little children should be kept away from growing plants too. Sometimes they will try to eat unripe shoots or even the soil. A little prevention will go a long way toward making sure your indoor gardening is safe for all.

You also need to make sure you have the right kind of hydration for your plants. You might want to get a professional to monitor your water for acidity levels. If your tap water is toxic to your plants, they will die or be unable to grow to full capacity. From a small sample of your water, you can learn a lot. In fact, you may just discover that your water isn’t good for you or your family either.

How to Prepare Outdoor Plants for Indoor Gardening

If you’re taking the step of bringing any outdoor plants inside for the winter, there are a few key routes to follow. First, check the plant for any signs of insects. The last thing you need is to bring spiders, mites and other critters into your home! They’ll be happy to jump aboard a plant that’s being repotted in your house, but you won’t be happy when you find them exploring!

Next, acclimate the plant to living inside. Just as it would be strange for you to suddenly spend all your time outside, it takes time for plants to adjust to indoor lighting, temperature and humidity. As the temperature outside starts dipping to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night, start bringing the plants inside during the evening hours. Then, pop them back outside in the morning when the temperature rises. Eventually, the cycle of bringing them in and out will help the plant learn to grow more when it is fully indoors.

With that being said, if you’re planting from shoots or seeds, you’ll have no problem with acclimation. Thus, if you want to start growing an indoor herb, fruit or vegetable, you can skip this step.

How to Keep Up with Winter Gardening

A winter garden provides amazing versatility for your eating and cooking, but only if you remember to treat it well. Be certain that you’re watering and harvesting as recommended depending upon the type of plants you’re gardening. You may even want to create a chart that lets you see at a glance when you have last watered, harvested or otherwise attended to each item you’re growing.

At the end of the winter, you’ll have a bevy of wonderful plants that you can slowly return to an outdoor garden, or just keep inside with you for more seasons to come. Don’t forget to share some of your tasty treasures with friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues! They’ll appreciate the fresh produce and be amazed at your gardening prowess.

Images by makunin and Hans

Kayla Matthews is a journalist and blogger with a passion for living healthily and happily. You can read all of her latest posts by following her on Google+ and Twitter.

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