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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Winter Salad Garden

It's a start

I have determined that I will grow salad fixings indoors this winter. This will involve removing the TV from the long table in front of the window that gets some fine sun in the winter. I must do this on a tight budget, like getting everything for free or next to free.

Since bagged salad greens or even heads of salad greens are between $3 and $4, I will spend during the year 6 winter months between $78 and $104 just for the salad greens alone, if I can afford it at all. Surely, I can grow something for less than that. My goal is to grow the greens and tomatoes, grape tomatoes. Grape tomatoes which are truly delicious gems in the winter, cost another $5/pt. Add another $120 + $104=$324!  

At the yard sale Saturday, this animal thing was $5, marked down to $1 at a certain point. For $1 I got the animal cage, not sure what kind and a legal-sized clipboard that I need for a little research stint. I will explain pricing in another post.

The cage is plastic and has a screened top. I can put plants in trays inside. The inside is not watertight, so I cannot just throw in soil.

My house has absolutely no heat at night because I turn off the space heater. Even when the space heater is on during a small portion of the day, it is far from the window where this will sit. So, it needs to be warmed all the times. I am trying in my head to figure out passive solar heating that will work for this. Black jugs of water seems more than my table will hold. We will see.

I have the potting soil. I have the plastic bags for germinating and seed starter pots. Now, I need to determine what to grow and buy the seeds. Tonight, I go on safari and will scrounge some Styrofoam that has foil on one side. That will reflect the sunlight back into the "cage" or whatever it is called--turtle house?

There is some glass in the basement for the top instead of the screen.

Only $1 has been invested so far. I want three salads a week, at least.

Your turn
Do you have plans to grow salads indoors this winter? Do you have suggestions as to what salad greens will be best? Large yield? Easy? What variety of grape tomatoes?


  1. Good luck! Please post a follow up when you get it all figured out.

    We are going to try to grow spinach and arugula outside in a covered hoop house this winter, though I doubt we will be able to make them survive in the deepest, coldest parts of our winter. But, it should extend the season in any case!

  2. Hubby planted kale the other day...late but here's hoping. our swish chard looks beautiful. love the idea to keep up the gardening indoors! have you thought of sprouts too? I bet they'd survive the cooler nights. ??

  3. BLD,
    I thought about doing that in my little 4'x4' box where the tomatoes and one pepper plant grew. Yes, I will give a blow by excruciating blow as I figure it out.

    From what I hear, the cold can be overcome by doing things like stacking bales of hay or putting dirt around the hoop. That might be something to investigate with people at nurseries or others who grow in the winter.

    I grew the sprouts in the bottle and was thrilled. I bought lentils but am unsure if I eat the little beans left on the sprouts, or what. I will definitely keep sprouts going for the hens all winter. They cannot forage as much and there won't be much anyway.

  4. BLD,
    Paint milk or vinegar jugs black. Fill with water and use those to capture heat in the day so it can keep the plants wwarm at night. Might work?

  5. Linda
    How cold is your house at night? You may not need to add a heat sink at all if its indoors. We used 2 milk jugs in a 20x4 cold frame, outdoors in a cold Chicago winter ( below freezing at night). That was plenty.
    Plucking lettuce and pinach is what we grew. I can't think of the lettuce name....maybe Bibb? I'll try to find out. Any cool weather green woukd grow though. Not sure about tomatoes.

  6. LindaM,
    VERY cold. that picture window is right next to the door, so the area would be blasted with cold air each time the door is opened. Across the room on an inside wall, it is often hovering below 50 near 48 at the coldest. I am going to get a thermometer for inside the little box to keep tabs. 20 feet by 4 feet?

    I know tomatoes can grow indoors. Just want to be sure to be moderately successful the first time.

  7. Our community garden plot was 20'x 4 ' so we built a cold frame around it.
    I think that your greens, if winter hardy, will do fine without a heat sink. My garden is still producing and its gone as low as 32 this fall. Greens love it! Oh, if you like radishes they like the cold too.

    I've grown tomatoes indoors but on a windowsill, not protected. I needed to buy a pollination spray though. I can't remember its real name. It worked though.
    I hope you do this!


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