Written by Jill Ettinger
Your intake of fresh produce need not diminish during the winter. Growing an indoor garden is one of the best ways to stay healthy (and happy!) in the colder months and it'll save you money and trips to the market when there's a million feet of snow outside. Here are some tips to get your greens growing within the comforts of your own, cozy little home.
- If you're already growing fresh herbs, you know how low maintenance they can be and how tastily they transform any meal. Savory winter herbs such as parsley, dill, mint, sage and thyme can yield great amounts of seasoning to make delicious soups, wintery stews, warm teas and just about everything else.
- You can also have fresh greens growing inside all winter long. Save and rinse out produce trays (like you get when you buy mushrooms or berries) and line them with several layers of paper towels. Dampen with water and sprinkle your salad green seeds. Place the trays in paper grocery bags and store in a dark, cool place until the seeds germinate and are no less than an inch tall, then you can move to a windowsill. Facing south is best, as too much sun will dry the seedlings out. You want a spot that has a good balance of light and shade. Moisten as needed and once your leaves are several inches tall you can trim and use as you would any other salad greens.
- Sprouts are probably the easiest indoor gardening venture. You can buy sprout kits almost anywhere, or make your own with some screen mesh, a big glass jar and a few trays. Sprout sunflower seeds for tasty addition to salads and sandwiches, or the spicy broccoli and clover, which are great for women. You can grow trays of wheatgrass and juice the shoots each day for an extra boost of energy and healthy nutrients.
- Something that may already be growing in your house is also a super health food perfect for winter: aloe vera. The inside of aloe leaves contains mucopolysaccharides, which are loaded with healing properties for your skin and digestive tract. While aloe takes some getting used to, after a while, you may actually like its bitter taste. Cut the skin away and scoop out the jelly. Blend with juice or eat straight. Use it externally too on dry, flaky, winter skin.
- Bring a little summer to your winter by growing edible flowers. Impatiens and calendulas are delicious salad toppers and grow easily indoors. With your yummy and healthy winter garden growing inside, you might not have to leave the house until after the thaw.
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Photo by Kthread, courtesy of Creative Commons