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Saving Money with an Indoor Winter Garden

By Jessica Ackerman

If you enjoy saving money by planting an outdoor garden each summer, you probably feel a bit sad when autumn arrives. Growing your own vegetables and herbs is a great way to save on groceries, plus it can provide you and your family with produce which is fresher and more delicious than what you can purchase in stores. Fortunately, you don't have to wait until spring to resume your gardening efforts. This winter, why not grow some vegetables and herbs year-round? It's inexpensive, simple and even fun. Besides providing you with fresh herbs and vegetables, gardening indoors is also a great way to chase away the winter doldrums.

Choosing a Location for Your Indoor Winter Garden

The location you choose will depend somewhat on what you want to grow and how you plan to utilize your garden. For example, if you simply want to grow fresh herbs to use when cooking, you might be able to grow several pots of herbs such as oregano, chives and sage on a sunny kitchen window sill. However, if you want a wider variety of vegetables, such as lettuce, radishes, tomatoes and peppers for winter salads, you'll probably need more space than a window sill can provide. Also, although some herbs can do reasonably well on a window sill, you'll get better plant growth and health by providing them with some auxiliary light, since the sun is not as intense in the winter as it is during the summer months. Setting up a table in the basement or in an unused bedroom can often work well. By securing several hooks in the bedroom ceiling or in the basement ceiling rafters, you'll be able to suspend fluorescent light fixtures over the table. Although you can certainly purchase specialized "grow lights," in most cases simple "workshop" fluorescent light fixtures will work just fine, and are less expensive. Use chains and "S-hooks" to suspend the light fixtures, since you'll want to be able to keep the light bulbs just a few inches from the tops of the plants. As they grow, you can simply raise the lights using the chains and hooks.

Selecting Plants to Grow Indoors

For the most successful indoor winter garden, choose plants that work well with your indoor growing conditions. For example, if you plan to grow your indoor garden in a cool basement, plants such as lettuce and radishes, which naturally enjoy cooler temperatures, would be a good choice. In the case of these plants, they can be grown anywhere that has a temperature range between the 60s and 40s. However, if you plan to grow your plants in an upstairs room which is heated, plants such as tomatoes, peppers and warmth-loving herbs such as basil would be good choices. These plants like plenty of light and daytime temperatures in the 70s, dropping no lower than the 60s at night. Without maintaining these higher temperatures, tomatoes and peppers simply will not bloom. If you've devoted a spare room to your winter garden, you can also accentuate the beauty of the room with other houseplants and flowers. You might find that this room is so cheerful that it will become your favorite place to be during the bleak and dark winter days.

Staff writer for, Jessica Ackerman has extensive design experience, using southwestern wall art and cityscape metal wall decor.

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