The 9 Most Productive Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors During Winter

The 9 Most Productive Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors During Winter

There’s more than one way to plant a bounteous vegetable crop. It’s possible to have a hearty garden even if you don’t have space in the backyard, even if you don’t have a patio or balcony for containers, and even in the dead of winter.

The approach may be different than planting seeds in the ground, but it isn’t difficult to grow vegetables in the convenience of your toasty, warm home. And, unlike growing vegetables outdoors, you’ll have total control over temperature, water and light – all without bothersome bugs and pesky weeds.

You may, however, need to provide supplemental lighting, especially if you’re growing vegetables indoors during the winter months. If the atmosphere in your home is dry, mist the plants frequently or raise the moisture level with a humidifier.

Vegetables aren’t fussy about containers. Nearly anything will suffice, as long as it has a good drainage hole in the bottom. Use a good quality potting mix. Don’t attempt to use garden soil; it won’t work.

Starter plants may be difficult to find, but if you plant seeds, the top of the refrigerator is a good place to provide a little extra warmth for germination.

Now that you know the scoop on growing vegetables indoors, here is a list of the best, indoor-friendly veggie plants.

1. Tomatoes do well indoors with plenty of light and warmth, but they need a good-sized container – preferably at least five gallons, even if you grow dwarf or patio varieties. Once the tomatoes bloom, you’ll probably have to help with pollination by giving the plants a gentle shake to release the pollen. Choose indeterminate tomatoes, which will grow and product fruit indefinitely.

2. Eggplant and peppers belong to the same plant family as tomatoes, and their growing conditions are similar. Look for dwarf varieties that take up less valuable growing space.

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3. Carrots generally need deep soil to accommodate the long roots, but you can plant dwarf or round types successfully in pots. Sprinkle the seeds over the surface of moist potting soil, and then clip the tiny seedlings to ½ inch apart soon after they germinate. Once the carrots reach 3 inches, thin them again to a distance of about an inch.

4. Radishes are easy to grow just about anywhere, and growing them indoors is no exception. Like carrots, round or dwarf varieties fit best in containers.

5. Potatoes don’t require a lot of space, but they need large, deep pots because you’ll need to add straw or compost to build up layers over the plants as they grow. You can even grow potatoes in a garbage bag with the top rolled down; then roll up the top as they grow.

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6. Mushrooms are a fun indoor crop. It’s easy to get started with kits, but you can also purchase mushroom spawn and do it yourself. The growing medium depends on the type of mushroom, but you may need to stock up on straw or sawdust. (Or rotten manure if your mushrooms are in a garage).

7. Beets do fine in lower temperatures, but they need plenty of light. Don’t crowd the plants, as beets need space for the roots to develop.

8. Lettuce is one of the few vegetables that you can plant in a small pot if you’re low on space. Like beets, lettuce is a cool season vegetable that doesn’t require a lot of heat.

9. Green onions do great in a sunny window. They don’t require much growing space if you harvest them while they’re small.

Squash 101: Tricks To Keep Your Harvest Stored For MONTHS

Squash 101: Tricks To Help Your Harvest Last Months


Squash is easy to grow, and the rambunctious vines, huge leaves and colorful blooms add beauty to the late summer garden. However, there’s a distinct difference between summer and winter squash.

Unlike zucchini and other types of summer squash that are harvested in summer when the fruit is immature and the rind is tender, winter squash, including acorn, butternut, hubbard, spaghetti, delicata and pumpkin, are ready to pick in fall when the fruit is mature and the rind is hard.

Most types of winter squash store beautifully with proper preparation, and the flavor is enhanced by the concentration of natural sugars in the fruit. However, storage time varies. Hubbard squash stores well and lasts at least five or six months, while buttercup squash and pumpkins maintain quality for two to three months. Spaghetti squash should be used in four or five weeks.

Acorn squash, which are thin-skilled, should be used fairly soon because they last only about a month. They require no curing period; in fact, curing will actually shorten the storage life of acorn squash.

Get Started

Harvesting, curing and storing winter squash is simple. Here’s how:

Pick winter squash when the vines begin to die down in late summer or autumn. The color of the squash should be uniform and the finish dull and no longer shiny. If in doubt, poke the squash with your fingernail. The squash is ready to pick if you can’t puncture the rind.

Squash 101: Tricks To Help Your Harvest Last Months

Don’t rush to harvest squash, as immature squash doesn’t store well. However, weather is definitely a factor. Although one or two light frosts won’t damage most types of winter squash, repeated frost or a hard freeze can do serious damage.

Cut squash from the vine with scissors, leaving about an inch of stem on squash; never twist or pull. Leave about an inch of stem on winter squash and 3 to 4 inches of stem intact on pumpkins. (Jack O’Lanterns need a good handle.)

Handle the squash with tender loving care, as any cuts or scrapes can allow pathogens to enter the squash, thus greatly shortening the storage life. If any stems loosen or break, store the squash in the refrigerator and use it soon because it won’t keep.

Place winter squash in a covered porch or other protected, well-ventilated room for 10 days to two weeks. Ideally, squash should be cured at 80 to 80 Fahrenheit to harden the rind and heal any cuts with nighttime temps above 60 degrees. You can leave just-picked winter squash in the garden to dry if weather is dry and temperatures are below 95 degrees.

After curing, brush dirt away gently, and then wipe the squash with a solution of one part water to 10 parts bleach.

Store winter squash in a single layer, not touching each other in a cool, dry, well-ventilated room. Ideal temperatures for storage are between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t store squash near pears, apples or other fruits that emit ethylene gases that decrease the life of the squash.

Check the squash every couple of weeks, and discard or use any that are showing bruises or soft spots.

Composting 101: Essential Fall Chores Every Homesteader Should Do

Composting 101: Essential Fall Chores Every Homesteader Should Do

An invaluable resource on the homestead, compost is easy to create and maintain in a relatively small area on your existing acreage. It revitalizes nutrient-stripped soil and helps to maintain a balanced pH level throughout it, in addition to encouraging the growth of beneficial microbes.

Much has been said about the benefits of composting your kitchen waste in recent years, but for the homesteader, composting goes far beyond just reducing waste in your home.

Even the best composting systems require a bit of attention when the seasons begin to change. Whether you are using commercial barrels or drums, homemade fence-style bins, or open windrows, a few fall composting chores will ensure your soil gets nourishment throughout the winter months. This, in turn, will make sure that you have a new supply of rich compost come spring for established gardens and fields and any additional acreage that will be planted.

Following harvest, clearing the garden beds is an essential chore, and vegetable plants left to decompose in the garden often introduce diseases into the soil. However, before you add those plants to your compost, set aside your remaining summer compost so that it can be used anywhere in the garden that won’t have a cover crop.

Composting 101: Essential Fall Chores Every Homesteader Should Do

Put your garden to bed by covering it with a layer of this finished compost. Layers as deep as three inches work best. This will allow nutrients to start assimilating into the soil during the winter months, as well as protecting the soil from acquiring agents that cause many common plant diseases. Moreover, compost can be incorporated again in the spring before planting begins, adding additional nutrients to the soil.

The All-Natural Fertilizer That Doubles Your Garden Yield!

Restocking your compost system, or even starting one, is simple to do in the fall months. Fallen leaves and dried garden plants, free of seeds, provide a nearly endless supply of brown material for composting. If there are not a lot of leaf-dropping trees on the homestead, then ask friends and neighbors if they would donate their leaves. Many of them will be more than happy to part with bags of leaves collected for disposal.

All of the scraps left over from putting up late summer fruits and vegetables, as well as from used livestock bedding and the last grass clippings of the year will provide the necessary green material for a healthy compost system. If the ratio of green material to brown material seems too low, then consider finding a source, like your local coffee shop, for coffee grounds. The coffee grounds will make an excellent green addition to a compost pile.

To maintain a healthy compost pile you may need to water the pile, as the breezy days of fall can quickly dry them out. Compost should be moist, but not wet. This also means that a cover may be needed in the wet winter months that follow. How frequently you should turn the compost also should be considered. Turning the pile frequently will speed the rate of decomposition, but in late fall it may be better to allow the pile to rest. Compost that is finished will begin to release its nutrients immediately, so allowing it decompose more slowly through the winter months is to your advantage.

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