October 5, 2023

Bring the garden indoors

Bring the garden inside with you to keep the herbs and veggies coming all winter long.

Pots on a windowsill will get plenty of light.

Most people think of winter as a time of cold weather and hibernation, however as all gardeners will know there is always something to get growing in the garden.

The cooler months bring forward the opportunity to plant beautiful leafy greens like kale, chard and spinach that are high in folates and not to mention winter veggie staples like broccoli and cabbage that are high in vitamin C, keeping those nasty winter colds at bay.

Despite a large amount still being able to be grown outside during this time, many gardeners retreat indoors growing their own fresh herbs and veg is practically impossible.

Not only does the weather discourage people from spending time outdoors tending to the garden, but an increasing number of the Australian population is residing in apartments or townhouses with no backyard, minimal balcony space or insufficient access to sunlight to make growing their own food a reality.

Beginning to grow indoors is an option for city dwellers keen to get growing despite their outdoor space restrictions and there are many methods to do so, with an increasing amount of products available on the market to enable anyone to grow their own food. The classic method of growing indoors is to have small pots on a sunny windowsill to provide you with fresh basic herbs to use in cooking.

Provided they have sufficient direct sunlight and drainage in the container, culinary herbs like basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, or microgreens of your choice can be grown successfully on a windowsill, however these will need to either be swapped out eventually as the plant gets tired or rotated with plants grown outdoors in full sun for a constant herb supply.

If planted in terracotta pots, be mindful that these plants will dry out quickly especially in a warm window, so maybe consider a self-watering pot to ensure its water supply over hot periods. If you are in a particularly cold area, but still have access to direct sunlight, heat mats are a great way to maintain warmth to encourage growth rates indoors.

This can be extremely helpful for seed raising and growing microgreens inside and will give them the extra push they need to germinate successfully.

Growing mushrooms at home in a dark space is fun.

If you’re struggling to find a sunny spot or just want to grow something other than herbs, mushrooms, being fungi, are naturally adapted to growing in dark areas and require minimal care making them ideal for keeping under your kitchen sink or in a laundry cupboard.

At-home mushroom growing kits are cheap, easy to use and readily available with some even containing gourmet varieties like Lion’s Mane or Pink Oyster, that are not only delicious to eat but are aesthetically pleasing once on the plate.

Indoor gardening has previously been limited by the amount of natural light entering your home, but there are now lots of options to help you grow abundant greens no matter how dark or bright your space is.

Grow lights are widely available and imitate the natural broad spectrum UV rays from the sun to promote plant growth as if they were outdoors in the sunshine, they also come in a natural glow colour or other interesting shades of blue, purple and red for an extra indoor focal point.

Herbs and tomatoes happily growing in individual pots under lights.

Hydroponic growing systems enable growing in water-based nutrient solutions for quick herbs and veg produced indoors and usually also have UV lights incorporated into the units for an added growth boost. These hydroponic systems require replacement inserts, nutrients and seeds but save a lot more water compared to normal conventional garden systems.

The Vegepod Kitchen Garden is an innovative benchtop system that uses soil instead of hydroponics for a more user-friendly experience by allowing you to simply fill it with premium potting mix, plant your seeds or seedlings, water, turn on the UV spectrum LED lights and start growing your food.

The self-watering reservoirs and wicking beds underneath mean that watering is kept to a minimum; ideal for the lazy home gardeners who just want fresh ingredients at their fingertips while cooking.

By being able to garden indoors using one of the numerous options available no matter how big or small, you can have nutritious, fresh and tasty herbs and veggies readily on your benchtop for you to cook and eat with.

Not only will you be reducing the travel kilometres of your food, which in turn reduces carbon emissions, the large amount of plastic packaging, cost and food wastage that comes with purchasing from the supermarket will be erased, a big win for both your hip pocket, the environment and your health.

A Vegepod system being used to grow leafy greens indoors.

So why not give it a go and see what you can get growing in your home!


This article first appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of SALIFE Gardens & Outdoor Living magazine.

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