Are You Growing Any Food Indoors This Winter?

| 10/20/2009 12:28:59 PM

Tags: question to readers, indoor gardening,

What are you growing inside this winter, and how do you do it? Have you had success in the past growing food indoors? Please share your ideas, tips and tricks with each other in the comments section below.

howard sallee'
7/23/2012 6:50:46 PM

Oops, your first mistake was to dry the seeds. Plant them in good soil right out of the fruit and see what happens.

kathy wigley
1/26/2012 1:33:36 AM

I have a 6x8 foot greenhouse but no heat so I brought my figs, lemon, lime and kumquat trees in the house to sit in front of my south facing kitchen windows. Just trying to keep them alive!!! However the figs are growing beautifully and I have one... just one little fig growing!!! I'm happy!!!!

mike laneville
1/25/2012 11:26:48 PM

My friend has been growing a beautiful lemon tree in his office for years. The fruit is fantastic. He gave me one of his lemons and I have been drying the seeds for about 2 weeks now. What are my best options for starting these seeds in doors. We live in Connecticut.

susan wigley
1/14/2012 3:16:35 AM

I am growing of pots basil, chives, lettuce, micro-greens, arugula and spinach right now on wire shelving in my bay window, here in Tacoma, Washington. I use shop lights with full spectrum bulbs set a few inches above my containers and a heat mat under the new seedlings. It works very well for me and I can enjoy fresh salads, herbs and some pesto all winter long! Soon I will start seedlings that can be harvested for baby greens inside, then transplanted outside into the cold frame in late February or early March.

doug alley
1/14/2012 2:39:57 AM

Hi all, I have some fresh tomatoes that I grow in a big planter. We live in the Florida Panhandle so we get some real cold weather some times in winter. When I see a cold front coming I roll the plants into the garage until it has gone by and then I roll them back out when its done, usually a few days later. For those who live in really cold weather please understand I'm not trying to rub it in. I do want to share the possibility of fresh tomatoes in winter with the folks of a similar climate. I have been trying to grow tomatoes using organic methods in spring and summer in this same area with no luck at all because of the heat and lack of pollination. I have started raising honey bees to help with pollination but I can not fix the heat problem. In mid summer when all of the folks north of here are loaded with tomatoes, I am left with half eaten by bugs or rodents tomatoes or that rot that happens at the bottom and works it's way up. I guess we all get our turn. Love All Serve All

ok doke
1/13/2012 8:07:42 PM

As for me I'm just about to start my flats for my spring set out plants... and have some mostly ornamentals I overwintered that are about to give cuttings for my spring planting. For indoors I just have a window box with a few kale, radish, and leaf lettuce plants, to give the occasional fresh salad, started about a month before frost outside and moved indoors. Just replant as things are harvested.

ok doke
1/13/2012 8:04:56 PM

Comment to those growing under CFL (twisty bulbs). You can get 5500k (near daylight spectrum) ones online fairly cheap. if you are lost, look for OTTlite replacement bulbs, edison base. Also look for photography bulbs. Invest the few extra dollars in a daylight spectrum, the plants will do so much better. ALSO, in photography bulbs you can get 45, 85, 105 watt (that is what the bulb uses, and it puts out about 4-5x that light equivalent) bulbs. These will be large, but in a dedicated fixture to light your plants, they will really give back in results. One 85 or 105 watt will give you about 4x4' to grow in.

1/27/2010 2:34:12 AM

This is a reply for Tamera, who only has a balcony door with window: Try using a clear, plastic over-the-door shoe hanger as a planter. There's a great article at: Good luck.

1/3/2010 8:16:10 PM

this is a wonderful site and this woman britta and those involved are up to some very cool stuff. i am going to install this set up in my window in nyc and grow lettuces, tomatoes cucumbers and some other veggie's that i have not decided on. this will be done with twisty florescent bulbs from my local big box home fix it store. the web site to see is: pass it on

vickie houser
1/1/2010 3:57:32 PM

Log Lover Lady - We also heat with wood. I have house plants 3 feet from the stove and our living room is on average 80 degrees. We are currently growing herbs in the house and potatoes down in the basement. You have 2 options with a wood heated home; first, you could add a little humidity with a pot of water on the stove; second, you can water the plants a little more often. We opt for watering more frequently. The plants LOVE the radiant heat from the stove much better than the hot blowing air from the (back-up) furnace vents. Give it a try :)

12/11/2009 2:16:56 PM

This is my first winter with Mother Eearth News. I live in a small, SE-facing urban apartment (Zone 4) with a balcony where I have grown tomatoes, herbs and blueberries (with varying degrees of success) in containers during the summer. This winter, my plan is to try growing sprouts on the kitchen counter, and also to try starting next spring's herbs and tomatoes from seed. I'm still working on the details - this operation has several setbacks, not least of which is that the only window in my apartment (apart from the one in the bedroom) is the door to the balcony, which I don't want to block or barricade. I'm not much of a greenthumb, but every year I try again. Any tips and suggestions are welcome!

greg sarmas_2
12/9/2009 3:56:27 PM

I am growing two varieties of small tomatoes suitable for indoor growing. Window Box Roma and Micro-Tom. They are growing under T5 fluorescents in a room adjacent to my furnace. The air is dry and the leaves began to twist due to the very low humidity, so I put a humidifier in the room. So far it's worked, but now I have yellow spots developing on the lower leaves. Is there anyone out there that has had this happed before? A couple of years ago I had some sort of fungus/disease on the lower leaves of my spring transplants, but these plants recovered very nicely once they were placed outside. Now I don't have that optioin as our projected high tomorrow here in Chicago is 11 degrees!!!! Please let me know of a safe cure, the price, and where to get it if you're in my area. Thanks, Greg

11/22/2009 4:40:31 PM

I brought my container mint in. It was doing so well it seemed like a shame to let it freeze. So I put it in a hanging basket under the kitchen skylight. Since then I've had to divide it. I'm giving half to my MIL for Christmas and starting some rosemary and dill. Dunno how they'll do. Anybody tried upside-down tomatoes indoors??? Everything has to hang, on account of the horrible cats. But I've got big east-facing glass doors and that skylight gets great sun all winter. Also there are plenty of warm days where I could take them outside and hang them on the south side of the house... I'd like to try a hoop house next winter. The solar pit thing sounds even better; I wouldn't have to use near as much elec. to heat it. Does it work well enough to be worth the trouble involved in digging a 5-foot pit in pretty much solid flint???? What would happen if I put up a small shed with a shutterable plastic pane on the south side and insulated the heck out of it???? Or stick to fantasies of enclosing the front porch and turning it into an ambiently heated sunroom...

mike jelinek
11/15/2009 9:41:23 AM

For the last few years we have enjoyed fresh produce and herbs from a sunpit I built myself. A sunpit is basically a greenhouse place about five feet in the ground. It is constructed from concrete block, laid up with no mortar, with the insides filled with concrete and rebar. The exterior walls are insulated with foamboard, with the north inside wall painted a dark color. The south-facing part of the gable roof is polycarbonate, with the ends and the northfacing roof insulated. The floor is gravel to facilitate moderating the temperatures in winter (warmer) or summer (cooler). The only heat is from a small 120 Volt heater on a thermostat. My pollen-ater is afan on a timer. The sunpit stays about 25 degrees warmer than the outside during winter nights. We've grown cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, lettuce and herbs year-round. It is bizarre to tromp through the snow to get fresh veggies!
11/13/2009 2:09:10 PM

We built a greenhouse last year - late in the season, so our winter was a huge lesson. We thought we would heat the greenhouse only to keep it from freezing using a milk house heater. The electric to run the heater was more than we wanted to use, so we cut it off after only two weeks. We had barely sprouted lettuce, beets, spinach, kale, carrots, and arugula. We put heavy row covers over the beds and watched them carefully. Our coldest night was 5 degrees outside, 12 degrees in the greenhouse - I was sure everything would be dead - nope - we lifted the covers and picked beautiful lettuce for dinner the next day. This year, we are adding two barrels of water and stone and pavers in the walk area to help retain heat. We seeded lettuce, endive, kale, spinach, beets, carrots, leeks, onions, cilantro, basil, and chervil. We also have tomatoes, habanero peppers, celery, oregano, and eggplant that will likely continue to produce well into December. We will be planting fingerling potatoes shortly to see how they do as well. I read further up about putting a lean-to on the side of the greenhouse - this would really work as a great solar heat space for our greenhouse also - will be thinking about this - thank you :)

11/10/2009 4:07:50 PM

I'm just getting started with indoor growing. I think I've found a source for lighting that is going to be far superior than anything to come to the market in years LED Growlights use MUCH less energy than meatl halide or hi press sodium. Check out

earth woman
11/8/2009 1:54:59 PM

I have grown tomatoes indoors in the winter. I took a regular florescent light fixture and in my dark furnace room hung it over a shelf. I planted seeds and when they came up I hung the fixture just over but not touching the plant. Then I set a timer to give the plants 14 hours a day of light. The plants loved it and grew right to the light and caressed the light. I thought it might harm the plant but it never did. I kept raising the fixtures as the plants grew. Those tomatoes grew like crazy until finally in Feb. the dead of winter, I put them in wall of waters next to the house in a sunny spot that the soil never froze in. In April the tomatoes were out of the top of the wall of water and got froze in a snow storm. I clipped them off at the top of the wall of water and they grew out again. I had tomatoes in June of that year. Crazy. I always wanted to apply this method to an indoor bed garden.

luna gardens
11/2/2009 4:38:06 PM

Currently we have culinary and tea herbs growing in the house for winter use. I have never had luck growing more than that inside and decided to step it up with solar pit help. We have just the A frame roof to finish on the solar pit greenhouse before the cold settles in. Once finished, we will transplant a flat of short carrots, spinach, winter density lettuce and other lower temp tolerable greens. Being our first winter with it, we are hoping to journal the daily temp flucuations inside with hopes to extend next years food garden tomatoes, herbs, beans and more. If there is very little supplemental heat needed, we will use a small space heater/grow lights to keep the temps at a growing comfort for the plants to produce. Anyone that is interested feel free to check in on our experiment of the pit greenhouse at my blog The Unusually Unusual Farmchick. Once the pit is running, I will post a weekly temp recording of high lows inside it and the same of the outside. I can not wait till that window and roof are on so I can continue to grow fresh salad for winter enjoyment!

10/24/2009 10:56:39 AM

I am planning on growing greens and other types of vegetables in my very large basement this winter. This is something new for me. Does anyone have any info on how much light vegetables require so that I can set-up the correct number of grow lights? Is there a foot candles per square foot figure? My basement is a little on the damp side. Will a little air movement around the plants help? By growing vegetables inside, I am hoping to save money, eat healthier and enjoy gardening all winter long.

june bolton_1
10/24/2009 12:39:52 AM

This is in response to log lady. I grow my tomatoes near a window 10 feet from my wood stove. I just have an old cast iron kettle that I keep full water. I don't have any trouble. I have plants all over the house.

robin in reno
10/24/2009 12:11:35 AM

We have a very small house, but I always grow miniature tomatoes (Red Robin is my favorite) and this year I brought in my basil, thyme, sage, and rosemary. I regularly plant basil seeds just so I always have some. I have a double decker 24" grow light and our house faces South. Our master bathroom window is frosted and it's great to grow almost anything there in the Winter. The window is only 30" wide, but I can get three tomatoes there! Let's just say that in the late Fall and throughout Winter, there isn't an available windowsill! Reno has over 300 sunny days a year, so when it's sunny my indoor plants go on the porch whenever I can. This year, I am also trying some lettuce under the grow light. I know it's not inside, but this year I am also trying some fall crops in the garden. The sugar snap peas are 4 feet tall, lush and green, and covered in blossoms! I wish I could grown them indoors.

laura _1
10/23/2009 9:57:44 PM

We have a small apartment but I will be bringing in my pots of herbs. I'll keep them on top of the frig so they will have the overhead kitchen light. I'll be growing sprouts too.

nancy petersen
10/23/2009 5:52:31 PM

I have a green house, 12 x12 and have lettuce, leeks, celery growing inside, and in beds outside against the greenhouse have more beds. There i am growing more lettuce, cilantro, bok choi, chinese cabbage and other greens. I made a lean to frame on the outside of the greenhouse wall and put an old 8' window with sliders in place onthe frame. It is not complete yet, so i don;t know how well it will continue to produce when we turn off really cold but there have been several killing frosts. But lettuce and other greens plus green onions continue to thrive.

jessica blum
10/23/2009 11:43:52 AM

We are fortunate to have double story south facing windows in Minnesota. The leaves go away and the days that we have sun...the room is gloriously sun filled. I have been experimenting with a Meyer lemon which does well, field mix and sunflower sprouts. I have a pot of rosemary that does fine as well. I am considering strawberries as well as a worm tower. (So I don't have to go traipsing down the steep stairs in the freezing cold to the compost) Winter is bearable with the indoor garden. I also use the windows for starts in spring.

10/23/2009 10:17:52 AM

I set up three flourescent T-5 lights in my basement suspended from the rafters on chains above an old freezer. I can adjust the lights as the plants grow. I also add a spot light for the tomatoes which need more light than the cold weather crops do. I use a mixture of Miracle Grow potting soil along with some composted horse manure in the bottom of each pot. I bring the planters from my deck inside and use them. They are a foot deep. I started all my plants in flats for the garden last winter. They did very well. I have parsley, rosemary and chives inside for the winter. I plan on doing spinach, chard, and cherry tomatoes as well as basil which did very well under lights last year. I also am going to plant some onion sets for green onions and lettuce. If I can grow my own salads and fresh herbs then I can save some dollars, I hope. Also, I can feed the extra to my chickens who will be missing fresh greens, too. The basement is more damp and the plants do better there than they do upstairs where it's dry from forced air heat. Also, any spills and mess are easier to clean up on the concrete floor. I have the lights on a power strip connected to a timer so they come on and off by themselves. It's great to have a little garden inside when winter socks us in. Michigan has rotten winters.

10/23/2009 9:29:55 AM

Over the years and the same this winter I've grown the cool season crops in winter. I installed window garden boxes on the house and on our usual sunny CO winter days the plants go out there to get as much sun as possible. I then transfer in to my growing rack which has a set of 4-foot fluorescent lamps on each level. Since I have kitties, I had to make creative ways to keep them out of the plants as the kitties will want the greens also. I've had success with everything from lettuce to tomatoes and as spring comes around, I get my garden crops going with this set up. I don't grow a lot, just enough for two but the knowledge that all is from heirloom seed and organic is worth it when the snows are deep. We heat with wood also so I just keep a spray bottle around to keep the leaves moist. Anyone can do it even if they don't have direct sun. Some light, warm, water and a good organic fertilizer and you have good home grown food all winter and actually all year long.

10/23/2009 8:54:22 AM

I have very often over the last several years grown indoors. We lived in Germany, the growing season is short and the light is weak during the fall and winter. It can be cool and rainy very often. I lived in an apartment and had no balconies or patio. Container gardening and indoor gardening were my friends. I had miniature tomatoes growing in pots, I did hydroponics and grew stuff for the kitchen, basil, chive, dill, etc. 1. Get a grow light. Winter is weaker sun and if you live above Zone 5, you'll need it or you'll get tiny weak lettuce like I did one year. 2. Best resource in the world for the DIY'er. Hydroponcs, container gardening, etc... all with what you have in the house or whatever's cheap and sometimes for free with what you can scrounge. Just remember to read the comments to get even better tips for doing things. 3. Experiment. My Aunt is a certified organic farmer and Master Gardener. I asked her how she got that way and she said the only way to become a Master Gardener is to kill 10,000 plants. In other words, plant, plant, plant... kill some, lots will grow! 4. Use the space you have! I grew cucumbers in hanging trellises from windows down, I grew tomatoes (bush type) in pots and put basil and chive in the kitchen window. 5. Figure out what your watering schedule is and figure out how to water your plants when you are gone or the power goes out, over and under watering causes bugs, disease and poor problem resistance.

10/23/2009 8:44:02 AM

Last winter we grew basil, sage, lettuce and cherry tomatoes indoors. We hung a 3 ft flourescent fixture on the under side of a shelf and kept it about inches from the top of the plants with a grow bulb in it. The least effective was the tomatoes, but they still put out a few and when spring came those plants when into the garden, where they did very well. This year I plan on all of the above and some spinach too. We also heat with wood and when needed, I supplemented the plants with a small space heater and a fan, which strengthens the stems. We approached this with the KISS idea and it worked. The area was in the kitchen pantry with the bottom shelf serving as the light area. It worked great!

log lover lady
10/23/2009 8:32:44 AM

Since we heat with wood our house is too dry to grow anything. Our mushrooms can not grow and we've given up trying to start plants in the house. However we can and do grow sprouts of all kinds during the winter and have had good success with them. Hey, it's better than nothing, and we certainly would not consider buying them at the store.

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