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Vermont Garden Journal: Indoor Greens For Winter Gardening

Microgreens are harvested once the true leaves form. All you need to grow microgreens is a bright room.
Microgreens are harvested once the true leaves form. All you need to grow microgreens is a bright room.

With the early snowfall this week, further garden clean-up will have to wait. But, now I can turn my attention to indoor gardening. Growing your own indoor greens is a great way to keep the flavors of the garden coming in winter. Greens are easy to grow indoors with or without grow lights. It all depends on how long and how big you want to grow your greens.

For growing microgreens (harvested once the true leaves form), all you need is a bright room. No lights are needed since you'll be harvesting at such a young age. If you want to grow your greens to the baby green size, you'll need a bright, south-facing window or grow lights.

The first step is to select the veggies. Looseleaf lettuces such as "Black-Seeded Simpson" and "Tom Thumb;" spinach, arugula, mustard, mizuna, and kale are some of the best greens to grow indoors. You can also mix in beets, radishes and even carrots to harvest the tops for a tasty addition. There are also mild and spicy indoor green mixes you can buy as well.

Then choose your location. If your greens are growing in a window and the leaves are leggy, yellow and not vigorous, you may need more light. Tabletop or tiered grow lights provide enough light for your greens to grow three-to-four-weeks for harvest.

Sow seeds about one-inch apart in open or multi-cell plastic trays filled with seed-starting mix. Keep the soil moist, but not wet. After a few weeks add an indoor liquid fertilizer to keep the leaves dark green. Harvest your greens when they're four-inches tall by removing the bottom leaves. Let the greens grow a few more days then remove the rest of the leaves. Plant succession crops throughout the winter.

Now for this week's tip: don't worry if you forgot to cover your roses or mophead hydrangeas with mulch for winter. The snow will insulate them for now and if it melts, you can add the mulch later.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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