Winter is one time of the year when you can expect your vegetable garden to really thrive, from my experience. This post is a handy guide on how and what vegetables to grow at home in winter in India, and how to care for them.
There is very little that can go wrong. In summer, you face the risk of plants getting scorched or dried up if you forget to water them at least once a day. On the other hand, monsoon brings with it deadly tales of pests and creepy crawlies of all kinds. That’s why when it comes to gardening, I love winters. The vegetables are fresh in the market, and the variety endless from carrots to spinach. I personally feel we consume the most vegetable during winter.
If you are short on space, you can grow these vegetables in pots. All the pictures shown in this post were shot today on my terrace. Just ensure they get at least a few hours of direct sunlight. The rains have stopped here for the past fortnight. So the seeds I sowed a month ago, have all sprouted and are ready to be transplanted into separate pots.
Perhaps the most easy vegetable/fruit to grow. Transplant the seedlings. Prune the lower branches, and the top most ones so that they grow sturdy. I have a variety of tomatoes planted now – two cherry tomatoes, two hybrid variety, and two indigenous ones for their sour factor. The price of tomatoes have not dipped and has been at a steady 50-60 per Kg which makes it a right candidate to plant and nurture for.
You can grow the cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets. The other varieties, it is best to grow one plant per 12″ pot.
I place these next to a windowsill. I did not monitor it for two days. When I went to water yesterday, I was surprised the stalk had found its way to the nearest windowsill. Ensure it receives enough sunlight.
After my bounty harvest the past four months, this has become my favorite plant. Keep a close watch for white and black spots underneath the leaves. Usually over watering, watering from above or rains causes these pests to appear. 3-4 plants is enough for a family of four. Choose to keep one plant per 12″ pot without overcrowding.
There is no need to transplant radishes. Just ensure the soil is loose. If it is hardy, the radishes you will get will be thin and small. These grow really fast. Just sprinkle the seeds. Do not water them from above.
Spinach is by far the easiest one to grow of the lot. You can trim, use the leaves, and wait for a few days to harvest again. I find that spinach does not taste great when exposed to direct sunlight. Keep it in partial shade for a luscious growth.
OKRA / BHINDI / LADIES FINGER
Other plants that grow well during winters are carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, strawberry, and beetroots.
SOME TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL HARVEST
- Sow seeds such as tomato, okra, chilly in a seedling tray and transplant them once they are about 6-9 inches in height. Note the date and the type of seeds sowed using an ice cream stick. Or, you can use this easy and super fast germination method to start your seeds.
- Just sprinkle water after you have sowed the seeds. Do not keep them in direct sunlight until they have sprouted.
- Do not over water. Feel how wet the soil is with your finger. If it feels wet, you can wait for a day or two before watering again. When the soil stays wet for too long, it attracts insects and pests such as slugs. the roots also start rotting. Always water deep instead of just wetting the top layer of soil.
- If you fertilize, water, else the plants have a tendency to burn.
- Watch out for yellow leaves.
- In the case of chillies, check frequently the leaves from underneath for presence of white or black spots.
- The choice of container is also important. I have used a 1 sq.ft * 1 sq ft tray for spinach. Okra, tomato, and chilly will go in a 12″ pot. This time I got good quality red soil that I have used as the medium with just a handful of compost. There is no coco peat. Here is a complete shopping list to set up your container vegetable garden.
- Container: As far as the container goes, I found the Cocogarden grow bags to be of good quality. I have been using them for nearly two years now. I had tried another brand of grow bags that tore within a few weeks, so I would recommend these (just so you know this is not a sponsored post). I also use a few cement pots.
- Soil: get good quality soil. I bought two bags off Sarjapur road without feeling the soil as I always do and it was a bad decision. Turned out it was way too hard that I had to discard it.
- Seeds: I have used Omaxe brand of seeds and the germination rates were good. Otherwise, I just get seeds from where farmers buy when I visit our ancestral village.
Are you ready to get started with your garden? Feel free to ask any questions you may have.