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Growing indoors makes winter seem a bit briefer

Hanbidge on Horticulture: Plants need light, water, warmth, oxygen and nutrients to grow
starting seeds indoors (Small)
In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is a long way away in the winter months, so supplemental light is necessary in order to get good production.

Winter has hardly begun but already I am sowing seeds. My favourite assistant on our online videos “Sprout” was sowing lettuce, spring onions and radishes just the other day. Please see the links in the byline following this article. The radishes are already up and ready for transplanting and I am seeing a bit of green from the others. Growing useful crops helps the long winter seem a little bit shorter, and keeps the blues away.

Gardeners get pleasure from gardening as well as the bonus of great home-grown food. We may be tired of gardening by fall and appreciate how nice it is once the frost comes and our outdoor gardening is complete, but we soon are missing the garden and what it gives to us. Thus, living in a climate that does not allow 12 months of growing outside means that for many months we need to either rely on what we have preserved, go to the grocery store to ensure we have a balanced diet or grow your own food indoors.

Remembering what plants need to grow will help us to determine how difficult it might be to grow food in the winter indoors. Plants need light, water, warmth, oxygen and nutrients to grow. As we are in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is a long way away from us in the winter months, so supplemental light is necessary in order to get good production. Thus, if we choose to grow anything other than sprouts, we need to invest in a grow light.

Light is one of the most important factors to consider when growing plants indoors. When choosing plants to grow this time of year to supplement your diet, think about the light they need to thrive and ensure your plants are appropriately situated under your grow light. Follow the directions on the seed packet and remember that generally a seed is planted to the depth of the diameter of the seed. It is important to keep the media moist to ensure even germination so covering the pot with a plastic wrap until most of the seeds germinate is a good idea.

There are many options available to you if you wish to purchase lights to grow indoors. You can be completely low tech or go for the latest in LED but all this of course also has a price tag attached. Shop around and think outside of the box. You can easily purchase an economical fluorescent fixture that you can install on chains to enable you the ability to move that light close to the plants you are growing.

Once the seeds have mostly germinated, they will need to be put directly under the grow light to ensure the seedlings develop into strong, healthy plants. If you notice that your seedlings are tall and spindly, it is likely because they are not getting enough light. As the seedlings grow, gradually raise the light to coincide with their rate of growth while leaving the light close but not touching the top of the plants.

Although light is the most important factor for success, the soil also has importance. Most plants like good drainage, so ensure your soil mixture will drain quickly. Do not use regular garden soil but instead invest in a soilless media like ProMix. For good production, you will also need to supply adequate nutrients through fertilizer once the seedlings have used up the nutrition provided by the seed itself. Water as needed to provide an environment that is evenly moist but not wet.

Keep reading the next few articles for more on growing indoors.

Hanbidge is the lead horticulturist with Orchid Horticulture. Find us at; by email at; on facebook @orchidhort and on instagram at #orchidhort.

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