What do you do over the winter?
Are you bored as a gardener in the winter?
Want to get out into the garden but can’t?
Dream of the long summer of days to come?
Why not try gardening in the winter indoors?
It will challenge you to grow something – you never know you may like it
how do you fancy growing crops without soil? Impossible? Nope there is a technique.
A very simple technique, doesn’t take too much time and give you a large return.
What is it?
Hydroponics, or growing with working water.
This technique has been used for thousands of years. From the hanging gardens of Babylon to the present day, flowers and crops have been grown without soil.
‘Too hard’, ‘don’t know anything about it’, ‘you can only grow illegal stuff’ I hear you cry.
Nope, learn here, yes you can grow illegal stuff but an awful lot more as well.
Is it hard?
The most basic system is a pot with a plant along with clay balls or pebbles. Pour a pot full of nutrient rich water through it every day and allow to drain, save the drained off liquid to use tomorrow and that’s it – one hydroponic plant.
How much simpler can it get? What you have created is a flood and drain system- where you add nutrient and let it drain, this way oxygen rich air can be drawn down into the root mass for accelerated growth. The plant doesn’t need to search for the growth nutrients.
With that in mind why not take it up a step and use a deep water culture system? A what? you say!
All this is is a bucket, an aquarium air pump, an air stone, some clay balls, a mesh pot, some nutrients and that’s it.
Start the seed growing, wash off the roots, transplant it into the mesh pot along with the clay balls to keep it upright. Fit the air stone into the bucket and attach the air pump. Fill the bucket with nutrient solution and place the mesh pot into the lid.
Keep an eye on the nutrient level and top up with water over the next three weeks.
After three weeks if the plant has a lot more growth to come then drain the old nutrient out and replace, feed this to your other house plants – they will love it!!
keep up this cycle and you will see very quick growth along with very healthy plants, before you know it you will be harvesting your crop and eating fresh produce.
The rapid growth is due to the plant being given all it needs nutrient wise to grow along with an oxygen rich liquid. As the plant roots are constantly immersed in this all the plant can do is grow.
This is the way I grow my tomatoes outside in a greenhouse every year. The masses of fruit and tall growth allows me to eat these normally until Christmas. Growing them indoors would allow you to pick the fruit off them for up to four years.
A mini version of this can be used in the kitchen to grow herbs, just make sure that there is a flow of air to prevent pests and diseases from attacking your plants. Yes hydroponics still suffer from pests and diseases, but due to the healthier plants they are less susceptible.
I have managed to keep a Basil plant growing for over 3 years in an Aerogarden. The only habit you need is to trim the plant and check the nutrient level daily. Top up with water and change the nutrient every 3 to 4 weeks, I use the same nutrient for the tomatoes outside and the Aerogarden. The chilli plant hasn’t done too bad, living for over 6 years and still going strong. Producing chilli’s every year, I have a massive bag of them in the freezer.
Again this is a very simple system to keep you going over the winter.
Come the spring you could use the Aerogarden to start your next season’s crop. Add a starter tray under the lights to turn it into a propagator.
This will allow you to start your outside garden sooner and enjoy the fruits of your labour earlier than others.
This year why not try a deep water culture next to your regular grow bag – see the massive difference in growth and quality of fruit. Pit it against your best method of soil based growing and see which produces the tastiest fruit!
Want to know which system is easiest to use, then go for an Aerogarden, add nutrient, water and watch the plants grow.
Don’t like tomatoes? Then try peppers or cucumbers. How about courgettes?
What are you going to be growing in your system this year? put some pictures of your results to show off the crop you grew.
If you have any problems over the year come back and ask questions.
So tell us all how you will be gardening in the winter indoors.
Thanks for reading