Along with the cold weather comes the ever-popular indoor winter garden.
As with gardening indoors during any other time of the year, despite growing inside, the environment outside your house is still going to influence how your garden indoors.
But you should let that stop you because there are many reasons to start up an indoor garden during the winter. Who doesn’t love fresh veggies that easily beat the out-of-season ones at your grocery store? Or how about the fact that all that heat coming from your garden can help cut down on your heating bill?!
1. Choosing The Perfect Location
When growing indoors year-round, you may quickly find that the location that worked great for your indoor garden in the summer is no bueno during the winter. In the summer, growing on the lowest level of your house/place often works best since temperatures are typically colder than the higher levels — especially if you have a basement.
However, during the winter, you may find your basement is now too cold for your plants. A mini heater is a great option for solving this issue, but for a no/low-cost option, consider moving your garden to a warmer place. Besides a higher floor in your house, moving your garden or grow tent near a sunny window can help you get that extra heat you need.
If none of this is possible for you, don’t count your indoor winter garden out yet. Most crops can tolerate a large range of temperatures before seeing detrimental issues. As long as you keep your temperatures spring-like, your plants should be OK — they may grow much slower, however.
2. Selecting The Right Light Fixture
One of the biggest issues with HID grow lights is how rapidly heat builds up. In the summer, this can be a nightmare to deal with. In the winter, it can be a godsend — especially if you’re growing in a location that sees colder temperatures than the rest of your place.
However, most growers are using the same light fixture year-round. This is why LEDs with drivers that let you easily move them inside and outside of your tent without moving the fixture itself remain our preferred light for both the summer and winter.
While the diodes themselves generate heat, the greatest heat will come from the drivers. This is why ChilLEDs current lines, the Growcraft and Ultras, allow the grower to have the choice of where their driver is located in their grow space. A lot of growers love the option of being able to have their driver outside of their grow tent, especially in the warmer seasons.
Remember, it’s a myth that LEDs don’t produce a lot of heat. A 200W LED will use the same amount of electricity as a 200W HID will. The difference is the LED will produce more of that energy as usable light at first, but once that light gets absorbed, it turns into heat. This means a 200W LED and 200W HID grow light will ultimately produce around the same amount of heat.
As well, while the poor efficacy of HIDs translates to more heat, making them helpful for a cold grow room, once those lights are off, your grow room will quickly return to those cold temperatures.
3. Picking The Right Plants
If you’ve never grown crops during the winter before or haven’t grown inside, starting with herbs that sit on a sunny windowsill can be a great place to start. You’ll want to make sure that the window is well insulated, however.
Cold and semi-hardy crops are a great idea as well if you’re struggling to keep your temperature up. This includes some of the most popular crops, like lettuce, carrots, onions, spinach, and broccoli. These crops tend to stay smaller, too, for another bonus. Microgreens and mushroom kits are awesome ideas for keeping things simple and easy.
Root veggies and bigger foliage crops can be a little — or lot trickery — to grow. If your eyes are set on a larger crop, like peppers, consider looking for a dwarf cultivator.
4. Buy Your Garden Supplies Before Winter
From gardening centers closing their doors/reducing supplies for the winter to fall gardening deals to get rid of remaining stock, you’ll want to try picking up most of your gardening supplies before the coldest months set in.
In particular, gardening items that tend to be heavy such as potting soil can be several times more expensive buying them online vs. locally. As well, buying seeds outside the coldest and hottest months is a good idea to cut down on extreme temperature fluctuations they may see when shipping them to your address.
5. Finding Time
If you struggled to find enough time to spend in your outside garden this summer, you need to assess why. This is because indoor gardening will generally require more of your time. You won’t have rain, pollinators, or sunlight to rely on. Crops grown indoors are usually more finicky, as they don’t see as many little stressors that toughen them up, etc. Non-soil media generally take more work to keep pH stable and rich in nutrients, and on.
Start your garden small, and add plants as you go in the beginning because, unlike outside, you have all the time in the world and aren’t racing the fall death clock.
6. Enjoy Yourself
From lack of vitamin D to that seemingly permanent chill in our bones, our mental health can take a real toll during the winter. But from digging our hands into the soil to watching new life spring forth, gardening can have a wonderful impact on our mental health.
So we’re going to reiterate, don’t take so much on that it kills your gardening enjoyment. There are so many fun little gardening projects you can explore this winter, from testing your skills on a new houseplant to getting a jump start on spring by sowing your seeds indoors. In fact, starting your summer plants inside while it’s still too cold outside can ease some of the stress and work that often comes when attempting a large outdoor garden.
Make sure to do some research before taking on a new project, and as always, here at ChilLED, we’re here to help with that. Happy gardening this winter!