Just because autumn's first frosts are coming in a few weeks, you don't have to completely say goodbye to fresh-tasting herbs and veggies from your garden. If you think ahead, you can save some of your vegetable plants from the cold and enjoy their flavors long after winter has come to stay.
Lettuces and Other Greens
Don't pay way too much for tasteless, watery, supermarket salad greens in January. If you have a fall garden with some lettuce or spinach plants, you can dig up a few of them with a trowel. Gently nestle them into soft potting soil in a pot with drainage holes. Set the pot in a sunny window, and harvest the leaves every two weeks or so.
Alternately, you can plant lettuce seeds in our Self Watering Garden. Keep the soil moist and in a warm, sunny spot. If your area doesn't have much sun in the winter, you may want to invest in a small grow-light. Your lettuce seedlings will be ready for their first harvest about 3-5 weeks after they sprout. After 3 or 4 harvests, your plants may be all played out, so continue sowing seeds every month or so for a succession of salad greens even when it's snowy outdoors.
Herbs like basil, parsley, and thyme will be quite happy growing in a pot on your kitchen windowsill. Pinching off leaves regularly will help keep them from getting overgrown and leggy over the winter, as well as give you some wonderful flavors for your recipes all winter long.
Did you know that in the right climate, peppers are a perennial plant that will come back year after year? However, peppers are tropical plants that can't take the chill winds of winter. So, if you have a gorgeous plant that you want to save for next year, you should dig it up out of the garden, pot it, and save it in the house all winter. In the basement under a grow light is the perfect place to stash large pepper plants until spring, as long as you don't forget about them down there!
Be sure that your pot is large enough and that you keep the soil just a little damp. Don't overwater it or let it dry out. By doing this, any peppers remaining on your plant will continue to ripen. If your pepper plant has enough light, it may even give you more peppers over the winter. In any case, next spring, when your neighbors are setting out tiny pepper sprouts, you will be putting out a mature plant that will set fruit within just a few weeks of being placed in the garden.
Don't pack away your green thumb for the winter. You can continue growing edibles for your table all winter long by using these tips.