Embrace Winter Gardening: Top 5 Vegetables that Thrive Indoors


As the winter months approach, gardeners often face the challenge of limited outdoor growing opportunities due to cold temperatures and frost. However, the solution lies right within your home – indoor winter gardening! With a little creativity and the right choice of vegetables, you can continue to enjoy the joys of gardening even when the snow blankets the ground outside. In this blog post, we’ll explore the five best vegetables to grow indoors during the winter, bringing fresh flavors and a touch of greenery to your home all season long.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

1. Microgreens: Tiny Powerhouses of Nutrition

Microgreens are young, edible seedlings of various vegetables and herbs. These little greens burst with flavor, color, and nutrition, making them an excellent choice for indoor winter gardening. They are quick to grow, often ready for harvest within 1-3 weeks, and they thrive in small spaces and minimal light. Popular microgreens include kale, arugula, radish, and sunflower. Not only are they delicious additions to salads, sandwiches, and garnishes, but they also pack a concentrated punch of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

I have taken sprout seed mixes and let them grow into microgreens with tasty results. I have used a ceramic microgreen tray with a coir base for the roots with success. I’ve also used a larger plastic tray lined with paper, but this one did dry out quicker. A note on the latter: the paper is placed on a perforated tray with a drainage tray beneath it. I haven’t tried the tray with soil yet, so I can’t discount it as a good system to use yet.

No matter which method you use, regular misting of the seeds and greens is required. I failed to do it one day and was left with some wilted and withered greens.

2. Spinach: Leafy Greens for Nutrient-Rich Harvests

Spinach is a cold-hardy vegetable that thrives in cooler temperatures, making it a perfect candidate for indoor winter gardening. With bright green leaves and a rich flavor, spinach provides a steady supply of essential nutrients like iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Choose compact varieties and place them near a south-facing window or under grow lights for optimal growth. Regular harvesting of outer leaves encourages continual growth, giving you a fresh supply throughout the winter months.

I tried to grow spinach in my large hydroponic unit with little success. It germinated relatively quickly but basically quit growing after its first few leaves emerged. That’s not to say it’s not suitable for hydroponics. I do believe the room my unit is in is much too warm for spinach. It may do better during the winter months when the room is much cooler.

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    3. Herbs: Fresh Flavors at Your Fingertips

    A windowsill herb garden is a delightful addition to any indoor space during the winter. Herbs like basil, parsley, mint, thyme, and rosemary not only bring wonderful aromas but also add depth and flavor to your culinary creations. Most herbs are relatively easy to grow indoors, requiring moderate light and well-draining soil. Regular pruning ensures bushier growth, and you’ll have a steady supply of fresh herbs all season long.

    Although some herbs do not do well in hydroponics, my mint is flourishing. I cut it back yesterday and am dehydrating the sprigs for use in tea this winter. I have been eating it fresh as well, pinching back the growing tips to encourage bushier growth.

    My self-watering herb planter (pictured below) will also be brought indoors this fall, which will continue to provide me with parsley, lemon thyme, lavender, dill, and calendula (marigold) for flavour and garnishing.

    Planter filled with parsley, dill, lemon thyme, and marigold.
    Parsley, dill, lemon thyme, lavender, and calendula (marigold).
    4. Carrots: Compact and Colourful Delights

    Believe it or not, you can grow carrots indoors during the winter months! Choose smaller varieties or “baby” carrots that are well-suited for container gardening. Select deep containers to accommodate their taproots and provide well-draining soil to prevent rot. Carrots require moderate light and consistent moisture to thrive. Witness the joy of pulling up these vibrant orange roots from your own indoor garden.

    I have grown carrots in containers before, but have yet to try them as an indoor winter crop. My house has a lot of natural light so I hope it’s enough for the carrots. I do have LED lights I can utilize as well.

    5. Scallions: A Never-ending Harvest

    Scallions, also known as green onions or spring onions, are a versatile and productive choice for indoor gardening. They can be grown from both seeds and kitchen scraps (using the root ends). Place the cut ends in water initially, and once they develop roots, transplant them into pots. Scallions can thrive in various lighting conditions, making them an excellent option for less sunny spots. Regular trimming ensures you’ll have a continuous supply of mild onion flavor for soups, salads, and garnishes.

    I love green onions and there’s nothing better than fresh-picked. As they don’t have a deep root system they’ll be ideal for a pot placed on the kitchen counter. Between them and the chives I should be set for green onion flavour all winter long.

    Wrapping it up

    Winter gardening doesn’t have to be limited to the outdoors (and in a climate that reaches minus 40 degrees, it’s not an option). By choosing the right vegetables, optimizing light conditions, and providing proper care, you can enjoy a thriving indoor garden throughout the cold months. Microgreens, spinach, herbs, carrots, and scallions are five fantastic choices that offer a range of flavors, colors, and nutritional benefits. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your gardening supplies, and embark on a winter gardening adventure that will not only satisfy your green thumb but also add fresh, homegrown goodness to your winter meals.

    Hydroponics System: My Review, Thoughts, and Experience/Advice

    In my last post, I told you about the hydroponics system I bought. Now that I’ve had it for over a month, I feel I can now provide an honest review based on what I have learned about it since set-up.

    Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

    My Review

    The system I bought is a Kalolary Hydroponic Grow Kit with Wheels, which has 108- 1 ½” plant sites. The kit came with everything needed for assembly, including a rubber hammer. The pipe diameter is 2 ½”, which is ample for the 2” long plant baskets. (I ordered the unit from Amazon but do not have an affiliate account so will not get any commission from your purchase, but don’t let that disuade you from buying. And as of the day of writing, they are on sale.)

    Assembly: A diagram of the pieces included was provided, as well as the assembly diagram. The rubber hammer included was not strong enough to tap the pieces together so I used a bigger one I have. Note they are a tight fit, so making sure they’re right from the start is beneficial.

    The system stands just over 5 ½’ when placed on the casters. Having a step stool handy is recommended for anyone who is height-challenged like I am.

    The pump and hose are included, but a water reservoir is not. I used a rectangular plastic tote that has over a 30-liter capacity.

    The system also includes 110 baskets (at least mine did) and foam seed-starting cubes. I opted to use grow plugs I bought for use in my other hydroponics grow units.

    My Thoughts

    From what I have seen so far, the system works as mentioned in the product description. There is, however, a learning curve. More on that in the next section.

    My Experience and Advice

    This will probably be the longest part of my review, but all points will be covered.

    I assembled the system on my own but could have used an extra pair of hands; especially when putting the levels together.

    Pay careful attention to the diagram, as the plug placement is crucial to correct water flow through the tubes. If you have to mark the levels to distinguish front from back, I recommend you do so. And always work from the same side, otherwise it’s easy to get messed up.

    The included casters are adjustable which is great for levelling the assembled unit. I suggest placing it in its intended location before adding the nutrient solution. A little word of advice here: level the unit, fill it with the nutrient solution, then check the level within a few days of operation. I failed to check to see if it was level beyond the initial setup and the solution wasn’t getting everywhere it was supposed to. I ended up losing all my strawberry plantlets, that I had on the top level.

    Nutrient Solution

    There wasn’t any nutrient solution included with the system, so I initially used the one that came with my other hydroponics system (similar to AeroGarden). I have since purchased another type, which is more concentrated and seems to be working well.

    As for the amount of nutrient solution needed, the instructions weren’t clear on a starting point. It said to put the solution in a reservoir (which is not included), run the pump for 10 minutes, then top it up. After some trial and error, I have decided to go with 24 liters. And as more recent experience has taught me, do not let the solution level drop below 16 liters.

    The Reservoir

    Now more on the reservoir: I am using a plastic tub (approximately 12” x 18” x 8”) that fits below the assembled unit. The drain tube ends 4” below the bottom of the lowest layer, so the reservoir needs to be below that. I cut a 4” hole in the corner of the lid so I could place the pump, hose, and drainpipe. As the container isn’t quite high enough, I used a plastic cup with the bottom cut out as a drain extender. I found it necessary because the water splashed onto my floor when it was draining back into the reservoir. To keep algae from growing in the reservoir, it’s best to use an opaque container. The lid also keeps foreign objects and little hands (my granddaughter loves to play in the water) out of the solution.

    I have the container at an angle because it’s too wide to fit directly under the drain tube. I initially had it beside the unit but that just didn’t work well for the space it’s in. It’s not an ideal size, but until I find another it works.

    Lighting and Temperature

    Lighting and temperature are also things to consider when placing your unit. I currently have mine placed in the spare bedroom in front of huge south-facing windows, so there’s a lot of natural light. It also means a lot of heat this time of year. I initially didn’t have any air circulation and I think some of the plants got too hot. Now that I have a fan circulating the air they seem to be doing better.

    The spot that works now will not work well in the winter, as the big windows are not energy efficient and that room does stay much cooler. The plants will not appreciate the cooler temperatures (aside from the kale and lettuce). Perhaps they may be the only crops I grow in this unit during the coldest months.

    I did put LED lights above the lower three levels for the plants that are further from the window as they were stretching out quite a bit. The top level doesn’t have an artificial light source but will have to once winter sets in.


    Something else to check regularly is the water flow. I was away for a few days and when I came home, I noticed there wasn’t any dripping between cycles. Before I go further with this, I have my pump set on a 5-minute on – 30-minute off cycle; and there’s generally dripping into the reservoir between them. It didn’t click the first day, but the next I realized something was wrong. What had happened was the tube disconnected from the pump, so there wasn’t any water flow into the unit.

    That did not end well for several of my remaining plants, as their roots dried out and they couldn’t be revived. The pump was still in the nutrient solution, so even if it did continue to run it wouldn’t have overheated.

    Record Keeping

    As for the unit itself, there was no numbering system on it for record-keeping so I created my own. Each level was designated a letter (A-D) and each hole a number (1-27). I have a dot grid journal to keep track of what I’m doing so each letter was given its own page and numbered from 1-27. Each number has its own line, and I recorded the planting date, seed planted, and later the germination date of each.

    I planted a variety of seeds but only had successful germination of some. As you can see in the photo above, the germination of some was nonexistent. First, all of the seeds I planted: Dwarf Bok Choy, Leeks, Italian Parsley, Garlic Chives, Blue Curled Scotch Kale, Dukat Dill, English Lavender, Lemon Bergamot, Lemon Balm, Leaf Lettuce, Spinach, Arugula, Marigold, Celery, Cranberry Bush Bean, Butter bean, Sugar snap Pea, Nasturtium, Cilantro, and Oregano. And of course, there were about 15 strawberry plantlets put in, but due to some not taking root and others dying because they dried out, I don’t have any left. (I will try again.)

    I’m not going to go into detail about which germinated and which didn’t, but my highest rate of germination was the kale, lettuce, marigold, and arugula. Oh, and the Bok Choy. So, with that information in hand, I’m going to plant more of what germinated and grew, and less to none of what didn’t. Keep in mind some of my seeds may not have been viable as they were from an older seed stash.

    Before I wrap this post up, I am going to say this: it is nice to harvest greens that are flavourful, tender, and not full of bugs like the greens I have in my straw bale garden (namely the kale). I’m looking forward to having more fresh vegetables in my diet this winter that I don’t have to buy at the store.

    Wrapping It Up

    I am happy with this system overall as it has met my expectations. The placement of which level certain seeds should be planted should be taken into consideration, as the bottom level isn’t the ideal spot for marigolds. Apparently, they’re a bigger variety than I have planted outside in my containers and flowerbeds.

    If you want to give hydroponics a try but aren’t sure about the size of this unit, there are smaller ones available on Amazon as well. I chose this one because I tend to go all-in when it comes to anything plant related. (Hence my site name.)

    If you have any questions about this unit or hydroponics in general feel free to ask them below in the comments. I’ll answer them to the best of my ability, or at the very least, point you in the right direction. This is a new way of growing for me so there’s also a learning curve.

    Greenhouses, Straw Bale Gardens, & Hydroponics

    Once again I have been lax in my posts, and for that I apologize.

    This summer has been a busy one for me as I am creating my own garden oasis. The acreage I bought almost a year ago (July 4 will be my 1-year anniversary of owning this place) has been a learning curve for sure. I think I have all the quirks figured out now, and I have lived here all 4 seasons.

    I am gradually converting over an acre of lawn into outdoor living space, gardens, and an orchard. The latter is the next project, and the groundwork for it will be done within the first week or two of July. I don’t have the equipment to do it myself, so my boyfriend will bring his little tractor and rototiller over and do it for me.

    As it sits I have 7 saskatoon trees, at least 10 raspberry canes, 3 rhubarb plants, 6 very thin asparagus plants (started these from seed a few weeks ago), and 5 or 6 goji berry bushes to plant in the new space. (That space should take close to 15 minutes off my mowing time.)


    I invested in a 10 X 10 greenhouse this spring, and regret not doing so years ago. It’s smaller than the porta-garage frame greenhouse I had at my other place, but being built from wood, tin, and polycarbonate panels it is much heavier and has withstood some wicked winds. I also added a wood bench to one side, which added more weight to it as well. And the anchors holding 2 of the corners down aren’t going to hurt either.

    Inside I have 12 tomato plants, which I planted in 5-gallon buckets, several peppers of various kinds, 2 cucumbers in pots, all of the fruit/veggies listed two paragraphs earlier, plus other random plants. It’s a little like Heaven walking into it each day.

    The inside of my greenhouse earlier this month.
    Straw Bale Garden

    I am also trying Straw Bale Gardening this year, as there wasn’t a garden space in the yard when I moved in. I’m not completely sold on the idea, but I may have been too impatient and planted in them before they were conditioned properly. The book I have on the method does recommend setting the bales out in the fall, letting them overwinter, and planting in the spring. I didn’t get my bales until mid-spring so I honestly can’t ditch the concept just yet.

    I also built 2 raised beds and filled them with straw bales. I have potatoes in one, and an assortment of veggies in the other; along with a pansy and strawberry plant. It took awhile for the potatoes to grow, but they seem to be doing alright now. I did notice a couple are ready to bloom, which means new potatoes are on the way. When the crops are harvested I’ll cut the strings on the bales and let winter take care of the decomposition process. In the spring I should have some healthy soil to plant in.


    The price of fresh produce keeps increasing, and the quality and flavour are decreasing. Summer is great because a lot of people are able to save money by growing their own. But what about those who don’t have the space to have a traditional garden? Or what about the winter months (of which never seem to end here in Alberta) when growing outside is impossible?

    Enter, hydroponics. I dabbled in growing houseplants over 30 years ago using a passive hydroponics system and didn’t take the time to understand how it worked so gave up. My ex-husband and I lived in an apartment in the city then, and had I inquired about the other systems available, I could have had a lot more years of experience under my belt.

    Jump ahead to a couple months ago and I once again decided to give it a whirl. This time I did more research, and also got to see an AeroGarden in use. I ordered 2 of them and am hooked. I have started plants for my greenhouse, and have been enjoying fresh lettuce leaves directly from the system every few days.

    Yesterday my 108-plant hydroponic system arrived, and today I have been familiarizing myself with the way it works. Sadly the directions didn’t state how much nutrient solution to use so I have been letting the system run and adding as necessary. At present I believe 18 litres is sufficient, but I may add another 6 litres just to be sure.

    I’m excited to have my own fresh lettuce, herbs, and strawberries all winter long. As the weeks go on I’ll be adding what I have learned to my blog and website. And my family and friends will also benefit, because I know I will not be able to eat as much as I grow.

    In conclusion I would like to once again apologize for being so negligent with this blog. Getting back in the swing of things since Ross passed away hasn’t been easy, and I’ve basically done the bare minimum. Grief is a crazy thing, and when we lose a spouse it’s hard to remember who we were as individuals before two became one.

    I’ll be posting reviews on the tools and systems I use for my gardening adventure so feel free to follow my blog.