10 Vegetables To Grow Indoors In The Winter
Winter is here, but that doesn’t mean gardening has to come to an end. You can easily grow an edible garden inside. In fact, I almost like gardening more during the cold season! Everything slows down and it’s a lot easier to manage than the outdoor garden. So consider growing these 10 vegetables indoors this Winter.
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This post covers:
- How To Grow Vegetables Indoors Without Sunlight
- Growing Vegetables Indoors With Grow Lights
- Top 10 Veggies To Grow Indoors In The Winter In Northern Climates
How To Grow Vegetables Indoors Without Sunlight
Believe it or not, there are a significant amount of vegetables that grow exceptionally well indoors in the Winter.
But how can you grow veggies indoors without adequate sunlight? Well, to have success growing vegetables indoors, you absolutely need to use a grow light.
This is especially key if you live in a Northern climate with low daylight hours during the winter months (like most of Canada).
Blogs and articles that say you can grow vegetables indoors just with natural daylight are geared at gardeners living in warm weather year round. Don’t be fooled!
So let it be know, the only way to successfully grow vegetables indoors in the Winter months if you live in the North is with the use of grow lights.
If you live in a Plant Hardiness Zone 1-6, you will need to supplement with additional light.
Keep reading for my tips on using grow lights!
Growing Vegetables Indoors With Grow Lights
The conversation around grow lights often intimidates new gardeners. But grow lights are incredibly easy to use. Plus SO effective.
What’s The Best Grow Light Brand?
My preferred grow light brand is SunBlaster LED lights.
They are really high quality and won’t add any extra cost to your electricity bill. They come ready to hang with hooks and a plug-in cord.
I hang my grow lights on a 6-shelf wire racking system from Costco. It works really well and keeps things clean.
Here’s some other must-have tools that will help you grow food successfully indoors:
Check out my other posts on seed starting & indoor growing:
- The Ultimate Seed Starting Guide For Canadian Gardeners
- How To Properly Water & Fertilize Your Indoor Seedlings
- How To Grow Microgreens Indoors In 5 Easy Steps
Now, here’s my list of top 10 veggies to grow indoors in the winter!
Top 10 Veggies To Grow Indoors In The Winter In Northern Climates
Remember — to have the best success growing veggies from this list, you’ll need a solid seed starting set-up!
1. Mixed Salad Greens
Spinach, arugula (or rocket) and mustard greens are all fast-growing greens that work great indoors. I’ve put them at the top of the list because they are extremely easy-to-grow and the perfect veggies to start with if you’re a rookie gardener.
How To Grow Mixed Greens Indoors In The Winter
Start by using a high quality soil mix specific for veggies and herbs, like this one from ProMix.
Then, add 2-3 inches of damp soil to a shallow seed tray with drainage holes on the bottom.
A DIY option for seed starting is to use a recycled plastic container from salad greens or mushrooms.
Heavily seed the tray so the entire soil surface is covered in seeds. Then, add a little bit more soil on top, water and cover with a humidity dome until germination begins.
With these salad greens you can go from seed to harvest in as little as 35-45 days!
Microgreens are another incredibly easy veggie to grow indoors during the winter. And there are so many great options to choose from!
Sunflower shoots, wheatgrass, cress, salad mix…the options are endless.
How To Grow Microgreens Indoors In The Winter
Growing microgreens is a very similar process to growing salad greens, but there is one key difference.
After seeding, cover your tray with a weighted layer. I use a second seed tray and fill it with 3-5 lbs of weight. Books work great.
Keep the tray covered for 2-4 days, misting with water regularly to keep the seeds damp.
Once germination begins, remove the weighed tray. Now place the uncovered microgreens under your grow lights. Within 10 days you’ll be able to start harvesting. Easy as that!
Be sure to check out my post How To Grow Microgreens In 5 Easy Steps for more detailed growing info.
3. Peas & Pea Shoots
Gardeners are often surprised that you can grow peas indoors in the Winter, but it’s true! And lots of fun.
What I love about growing peas indoors is that you can harvest both the shoots and the pods.
How To Grow Peas Indoors In The Winter
Pea shoots are fast-growing and ready to eat within 40 days. Whereas pea pods will take anywhere from 65-85 days before they are ready to harvest.
Sow peas 1 inch deep into high quality potting soil. Water soil to keep it consistently damp until germination begins.
For best results, choose a dwarf variety of pea that is meant for containers or small spaces. Peas become bushy, vining plants so provide them enough space to grow as well as a stake to vine up.
4. Fast Growing Herbs – Dill, Cilantro, Basil
There’s nothing like adding fresh, homegrown herbs to a meal in the middle of winter. You really feel like you’re winning. Plus, you’ll save money.
Dill, cilantro and basil are all fast-growing, annual herbs that do well under grow lights.
How To Grow Herbs Indoors In The Winter
Cilantro and dill grow best when heavily seeded in a shallow container.
With basil, I suggest planting 1-2 seeds in each individual cell. Planting basil individually will allow the plants to get bigger and bushier.
In past years, I’ve started basil indoors in Jan-Feb and planted it out in the garden come May. By that time, my plants are huge and I have a great, big basil patch to enjoy throughout the Summer.
Yes, carrots! You can grow carrots indoors in the winter and harvest the stems or wait until roots develop.
Again, it’s best to look for a variety of carrot that is on the smaller size and/or better suited to growing in containers.
How To Grow Carrots Indoors In The Winter
Use a container that is at least 8 inches deep and has drainage holes on the bottom.
Fill with a high quality potting soil, stopping 1-2 inches from the top. Get the soil damp but not too wet that there is standing water.
Sprinkle your carrot seeds over the surface. Carrot seeds are very fine so don’t worry about spacing them out. You will thin after a few weeks.
Cover with a thin layer of soil, moisten with a spray bottle and then place under grow lights.
Make sure to keep soil damp consistently during germination. This is key!
Within 10-12 days, your carrots will begin to sprout. Thin them as needed by pulling out carrot tops that are spaced too closely together.
Within 60-75 days your carrots will be ready to harvest!
I love growing kale all throughout the winter months because it is hardy and resilient!
If you forget about watering or turning on the grow light for a few days, your kale will certainly bounce back.
Kale is also a vegetable that produces new growth for a long time. So I often transplant the kale plants I start in the winter into the outdoor garden come May. They’ll produce all throughout the season and even into the Fall.
Plus there’s so many great kale varieties to choose from. Just another reason why kale is so great to grow!
How To Grow Kale Indoors In The Winter
Plant 1-2 kale seeds in each individual cell of your seed starting tray.
Once your seedlings are 4 inches tall, repot them into larger containers where they can grow long-term.
Kale will benefit greatly from being fertilized with an all-purpose organic fertilize every month or so. Try Sea Magic, our preferred plant-based liquid fertilizer.
7. Asian Greens
Asian greens are vegetables such as tat soi, bok choy, shiso, pac choi and tsai.
They produce dark green leaves with white stems and typically grow in a compact, upright manner.
Asian greens grow exceptionally well in containers and many varieties are well-suited to growing both indoors and out.
How To Grow Asian Greens Indoors In The Winter
For optimum growth, sow 1 seed per cell.
Once plants put on their true leaves and begin to bush out, transplant to a larger container. I like to use rectangular, shallow containers and grow 3-4 plants in each.
Your asian greens can be harvested as baby greens after 25-30 days, or harested at full maturity around 45-50 days.
Cucumbers are another veggie you might be surprised to hear you can grow indoors in the winter!
I’d also suggest looking for a parthenocarpic variety of cucumber, meaning fruit will develop without requiring fertilization or pollination. This is great for indoor growing as it will ensure your cucumber vines put on fruit without needing wind or bees to pollinate.
Here’s a few great parthenocarpic cucumber varieties to choose from from my preferred seed vendor, West Coast Seeds.
How To Grow Cucumbers Indoors In The Winter
Cucumbers need warm soil to germinate, so use a heat mat, grow lights and humidity dome when starting seeds.
Sow one cucumber seed per cell.
Once seedlings are 25-30 days old, transplant to a large container with a support for the vines to climb up.
9. Broccoli Rabe
Broccoli Rabe or Rapini is in the same cruciferous family as broccoli and similar in flavour and nutritional value.
However, broccoli rabe doesn’t form a large head but rather puts off many small edible leaves, buds and shoots.
It’s a great veggie for growing indoors over winter because you don’t have to deal with the many pests that tend to pressure it when grown outdoors.
It will also continue to put on new growth for months and months. So it’s a great plant to begin growing and harvesting indoors in Winter and then transplant outside come Spring. If you practice succession planting, you could easily grow rabe year round!
How To Grow Broccoli Rabe/Rapini Indoors In The Winter
Sow one seed per cell.
Once seedlings are 25-30 days old, transplant to a large container that allows them to get wider.
Broccoli rabe is ready to harvest within only 45 days — nearly half the time as a head of broccoli.
10. Butterhead Lettuces
Last but not least, I so encourage you to try growing a few different varieties of butterhead lettuces indoors this Winter!
They are easy-to-grow and super fast-growing — you can harvest baby greens within as little as 40 days. Plus, butterhead lettuces actually prefer cooler temperatures, so no need to worry about providing additional warmth or humidity in your indoor set-up.
How To Grow Butter Lettuce Indoors In The Winter
Lettuce seed is quite fine and small, so I find pre-germinating in a damp paper towel makes them easier to plant.
Simply wet a paper towel and sprinkle seeds on one half. Fold it so seeds are covered between the two damp layers.
Place it in a sealed plastic bag and put under your grow light or tape to a window with full sun.
Within 7-15 days seeds will begin to sprout. Transplant to a 1-inch deep planting cell.
Once lettuce starts to widen out, transplant to a shallow container. Some varieties get as large as 10-inches wide!
And there you have it!
Those are the top 10 veggies to grow indoors in the Winter.
I hope this post inspires you to continue your gardening in the cold, winter months.
And if you have any more questions, leave a comment below. I love chatting with you here and answer every comment!