Bob Ewing — The weather has been grey, wet, and humid this past week. The growing season has about 30-45 days left and unless the sun returns soon, plants like cucumbers, tomatoes, and pepper will not mature. This is a good time to think about starting an indoor vegetable garden.
Imagine, there is a foot of snow on the ground, the wind is howling and the temperature has sunk well below the freezing point.
Hunger suggests it is time for a snack and instead of going into the kitchen, you head for the living room and pluck several ripe cherry tomatoes from the plants growing there; then cut a leaf or two of romaine lettuce and now for the kitchen and the bread.
The tomatoes are growing in natural sunlight in containers filled with soil. Hydroponics is an option for indoor growing and a future article will look closer at this method.
I have grown cherry tomatoes, Camp Joy heritage, indoors and once had a plant that produced tomatoes for 11 months. Mind you, in the last 3 months, I was getting them one at a time, not really worth the effort but even one fresh ripe tomato on a snowy winter day can make you feel better.
In addition to the tomatoes, beans, green peppers, salad greens and even and miniature egg plant were all grown in the living window, with natural light.
The salad greens, the cut and come again plants, did the best, and I feel provide the best return for the effort.
The beans produced a few tasty pick and eat treats but more space would be needed to justify the time spent.
The plants’ requirements indoors are very similar to what they need outdoors; at least six hours of sunlight, although eight is preferred.
Before you get started, you will need to assess the space that you will devote to your indoor vegetable garden? Does this space get the sunlight necessary to produce the food (6-8 hours)?
You can use anything for containers as long as it is big enough to allow the plant roots space to grow and you provide sufficient drainage. If you are serious about indoor vegetable gardening, I suggest using containers that allow you to water them from a hole near the bottom and have a reservoir that holds water. This way the plant roots will grow down toward the water and become stronger, thus enabling a healthy plant to rise up.
Pests, such as white fly and aphids, can become problems; so be sure to regularly check your plants and look for signs that something different is taking place. This way you can intervene before the problem emerges and turns into an infestation.
A spray bottle with soap and water is often all the equipment you need to defeat any attempts to take over your crop.
Misting with a hand mister, perhaps once a week, can help your garden to grow and be sure to avoid crowding the plants to close together in an attempt to increase your yield; the plants need air and this will help control pests and diseases.
So if you can set yourself up a small cut and come again garden composed of your favourite salad greens so that you can have something that you grew yourself and is guaranteed fresh when you want it.
You can grow a steady supply of greens in a fairly small space and will always have something tasty to add to your sandwiches and salads any time you wish.