Planting a Winter Garden

Making the most of every season is important when you are trying to live on a budget. Each fall after the garden is done, the soil is tilled again, and my once beautifully green section of the yard is bare is a sad time. But then I remember it’s time to get the winter garden growing and if anything perks me up it’s a green plant.

aerogarden

Planting a Winter Garden

Each year I want to get in my winter garden soon because we really notice the hit on our grocery budget right away after the garden is finished. You don’t need to have a lot of extra space to have a functional garden inside of your home! Today I wanted to share with you how I’ve set up my winter garden in the past couple of years at several different homes that we’ve lived in. If you weren’t sure how to put yours together, hopefully this will give you some ideas!

garden

This is the AeroGarden that I’ve had. They no longer make it but there are plenty of other versions you can get now (although I highly recommend the LED lights to save on electricity.

In the beginning, I used the seed pod kits that came with the gardens but now I just use the DIY kit and make them myself, it’s much more cost-effective and you can use your own seeds. I saved and washed all the plastic pieces that the sponges go into and then I just buy this refill kit for new sponges and plant food.

This method has worked wonderfully for me every winter since 2014. Things are easy to grow in the Aerogarden, they take very minimal care and maintenance and they grow very quickly. I also like that I can grow a variety of things at one time in it and honestly I love the lights and the greenness of it all on those cold winter days.

garden3

Here’s something else I’ve done in the past for a winter garden, before I had the money for an Aerogarden.  I just planted a few bean and pea seeds in some containers I found on clearance at Tractor Supply. I didn’t have much luck growing these types of veggies in the house but the setup works just fine.

A few lettuce, bean, and pea plants may not seem like much in the scheme of things but if I can save myself from buying even $5 worth of produce each week from the grocery store through the winter, that’s over $100 saved. Plus we have fresh goodies that we can pick right here in our house and is much fresher tasting than the grocery store. And like I said, it just makes me happy to have things growing in the winter!

I miss my summer garden with the little buds slowly opening and the tiny little veggies coming out from hiding. Having a winter garden for me isn’t just for the free food part, it’s to bring a little bit of summer into my home all winter long.

Here’s another setup that I used a while back. I used a planter and a shoebox-sized plastic tote. In these I planted peppers and tomatoes. Both CAN be grown indoors but you will have to pollinate the flowers by hand. If you are having trouble finding seeds in the winter and you don’t want to catalog order, check your local Walgreens or hardware store. I buy potting soil in late fall on clearance and store it outside.

I used the shoebox tote for my lettuce seeds. You can cut lettuce several times and it will continue to grow back. After a while, you may want to replant though or the lettuce can get sour or bitter.

My little pepper seeds. I want to grow 2 plants but I couldn’t find my other planter pot so I put them together in the beginning and I separated them when they got a little bigger.

Give them a little water to get them going!

The most important things about growing in the winter is that you need to keep the plants warm and get them plenty of sunlight. So pick a warm room and set them by the window. In this pic, I had put up my little card table in my office window and put the plants on it. If you are still struggling with the plants getting enough light (they will look yellow and sickly), you may need to invest in a grow light. Amazon has a large variety of them to choose from, you just want to make sure that you pick one that has a full light spectrum (red and blue).

What are you going to plant this year in your winter garden?

merissabio

This post on growing a winter garden was first posted in November 2014 but I have updated it in December 2019.

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18 Comments

  1. I got my indoor herb garden started a few weeks. Definitely wanting to try some veggies though! Hopefully I can get out of the house this weekend and do some searching =)

  2. I see where our local dept store has the big orange and black round plastic totes on sale for $5.99. Because I want my new patio enclosure/sunroom type thing to look “nice”, I think I may just buy a couple of those big black round totes for winter gardening in the sunroom…. The black will help with the sun retention, not that we get much in the winter… Can’t hurt to try anyway!

    It rains here almost ALL winter… lots and lots of rain. But even so, the swiss chard, brussell sprouts, collards, kales, and root crops still grow for me well in the garden. I love having fresh green swiss chard in the dead of winter!

    Enjoy your inside garden!

  3. Awesome idea! I kinda planned to do that but didn’t quite know where to begin. And I LOVE the idea of using the black totes – they’re deep enough for root vegetables! 🙂

  4. I wish we had a window that could get enough light for winter growing indoors. This year, to extend the season a bit, I’m going to plant kale in August for harvesting in fall & maybe even early winter. We’ll see!

  5. I see you’re using an areogarden. Just scrubed mine from starting my fall garden seedlings. Any suggestions on a do it yourself refill for the soil tubes? I hate the thought of paying for dirt…

  6. This is a great way to save money on produce during winter! I live in Canada, so the winter can be really harsh and so going to the grocery store with 3 small kids for some veggies is something I despise!
    Anyways, which plants are best grown inside during winter? And how should they be grown? I don’t have a Aerogarden.

    Thank you, your blog is so inspiring!

    1. You can grow many things indoors just in containers or pots. Lettuce grows really well as long as it gets plenty of light. We are trying broccoli as well.

  7. This is a really good idea. I was just looking at a sight for a greenhouse to grow produce all year long. This would be more feasible right now (other than space, but I can live with that). Thanks for the idea!

  8. Would love an update on your winter garden. It may be a good use for all those grow lights we have for seed starting in the winter! It sure would be nice to have a few green edible plants to visit in the basement during the coldest months of the year

  9. I may have to try growing veggies indoors…never thought of that! I do have a trick to share that I find extends the life of my strawberries and raspberries; when I come home with a load of groceries, I run a sink of cool water with a drop of two of dish soap, and about a half cup of vinegar. I soak all my produce in it while I put everything else away. I read that vinegar will kill mold spores on berries, and I find that it works well. After about ten minutes, I drain the wash water, and gently rinse everything in more cool running water, then I lay out the berries (and other produce) on tea towels to dry fully before I put it away in containers (lined with paper towels) in the fridge. It’s a bit time consuming, but it helps my produce purchases last longer, and honestly…if I don’t take the time to wash fruits/veggies right away, my family won’t bother and eats things “as is”, which makes me crazy!

  10. Because so much has changed over the past several years, I wanted to suggest that everyone purchase Organic or Heirloom plants and seeds.

    There are just too many seeds and plants that are not Genetically Modified (GMO) and these have little nutrition value plus all the chemicals or whatever they have been formed with.
    The same goes with Hybrid plants and seeds – after all the re-branching/modifications for new – there is little & no nutrition anymore.

    Just a suggestion to all.

  11. Hi, I love your site. I share a lot of your posts on my own pages, and I often come here for ideas.

    I was wondering if you know of a way to plant a winter garden and keep three active toddlers out of it? Right now all my houseplants are huddled together on the buffet in front of the same window because it’s the only place where I can keep the children out of them.

    Thanks

    1. I try to keep mine in a room where my little ones don’t go in often, that’s the only way I can keep them from playing “sandbox”. 🙂

  12. I’m trying this again this year. How do you keep from getting gnats from the soil. Every time I buy it the soil is fill with it.

    1. Be sure that you aren’t overwatering, gnats love wet soil. You can also mix a bit of apple cider vinegar and dish soap together and put it in a jar or dish next to the plants to trap the gnats.

  13. Definitely, what a magnificent website and enlightening posts, I definitely will bookmark your blog.All the Best!