There is a premise that once the weather starts getting colder, that all gardening stops, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
There are many things you can grow indoors that you can eat during the winter months. A lot of it is great fun and, just think of it, picking fresh from your own kitchen windowsill to sensationalise your dishes—it’s a real privilege.
Veg on a ledge
There are six really good plants that you can grow inside all year round that can produce crops for you—even at this time of year. Windowsill crops are becoming ever-more popular, here are my favourites:
For start off: simple cress. You can germinate cress seeds on a bit of dampened kitchen roll placed on a saucer, with the seeds literally sprinkled on top.
The germination time is pretty quick – just a few days – but you also get three kicks; it’s great fun preparing and sowing the seeds, you get the excitement when you see them germinate, and then you can harvest to have with freshly scrambled egg.
Pop a dash of salt and cracked pepper, spoon it onto some crusty bread, and then scatter some fresh crunchy cress onto the top—perfection.
If you sow more seed every two weeks, you’ll have a continuous supply. Take cuttings when the seedlings reach 5cm tall.
Perfect for use in most soups, salads and sandwiches to get that Italian taste to your food.
Now, you can buy these small basil plants from garden centres and then just sit them as a permanent container on your kitchen windowsill, or you can sow basil seeds direct. The secret with most plants growing indoors, is the fact that you want to crop them on a regular basis.
The heat in the room tends to draw them up and get them to grow a bit leggy. So, aim to crop and use them regularly so that the plant can re-sprout.
Of course, any plants in containers that you’re cropping regularly, need a little bit of feed. Miracle-Gro is great for that. You can water it down into a recycled plastic bottle, just reuse these as little watering containers with a premix of Miracle-Gro. By regularly feeding it, you’re giving the plant energy to grow more foliage.
3. Mung Beans
Similar to cress, these – often referred to as beansprouts – can grow almost anywhere! These legumes are perfect to grow; quick and easy. But they’re also hugely nutritious, a superfood of sorts. Soak your seeds for 8 hours before sowing and place them onto the cloth, jar or seed sprouter.
My top tip is to place a weight on top of the seeds whilst they grow as the sprouts will grow thicker and become crunchier if they’re subjected to pressure.
Much like the basil, you can grow this from seed or buy small plants.
Don’t forget to feed and crop regularly too.
Parsley is a beautifully looking plant; those crinkly deep-emerald leaves look perfect in dressing or grated on top of new potatoes with butter.
Curley parsley, like that in my Mr Fothergill’s seed range, can give a richly aromatic flavour to all manner of savoury dishes.
You can cut them at any time of year and regular sowing will result in a plentiful succession of leaves for a small addition into your cooking that packs a punch in the nutrition area.
5. Speedy salad
Another easy grower is speedy salads.
Many of the lettuces you normally associate with growing outside earlier in the year, work really nicely when grown indoors.
You’re not looking for these plants to get old, just to produce a lot of young fresh foliage that you can clip off and use in salads and sandwiches.
I normally just have a large pot in a light porch by the back door when it’s not too hot. When the foliage has matured, you can crop them and then re-water the pot as you’ll get another flush of leaves before the plant tires out. Then use the remaining seeds in the packet to replant.
You get hundreds of little seedlets in there so you can just keep going and growing.
There are many different mushrooms kits.
You can get them from most garden centres or online and with Christmas around the corner, these little kits are really something.
They often some with the mushroom compost and the pre-spawned substrate and you just situate them in a dark room or cupboard.
Once they’re ready, you can pick fresh your own button mushrooms for a Christmas Day fry-up.
It’s not only the goodness of growing your own or the fact that it’s saving you money, but it also looks good. Filling your kitchen with greenery; giving it a real living sense as the main place that adds sustenance and nutrition to you and your family.
There is so much to enjoy in the garden during winter. You can get involved with Illumination Street, sponsored by Safestyle UK. This Christmas campaign encourages you to illuminate you outdoor spaces this winter with a national competition and cash prizes. Visit illuminationstreet.com or search #illuminationSt to find out more.
Happy gardening everyone!
Worms are vital for growing veg.
These curious creatures can eat their own weight
in soil in one day and, as they digest it,
it will enrich the soil.
Can I have lights in my pond?
You can buy special aquatic lights that sit at the bottom of a garden pond and cast their light upwards, which can look really striking. The light can be white or coloured and will give you a view of pondlife as the evenings draw in. Visit your local garden centre for advice on the best product for you and how to install them.
I have gaps in my borders; what’s a good plant to fill?
Go for winter-flowering plants like hellebores, heathers or fantastically fragrant Sarcococca (sweet box). Now is still a great time to plant bulbs, like snowdrops which can be bought now fully-flowering in pots, and any other spring bulbs that need their roots established before spring when they provide a splash of seasonal splendour.