Vegetable seedlings growing on the window ledge

Just because there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean it is time to stop focusing on living more sustainably. Even though many of us go into inaction during the winter, now is the time to take it up a notch and focus on our winter sustainability practices. One way we can do that is to grow some of our food indoors during the chilly months.

Here are five different ways you can grow food indoors this winter.

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Use Natural Light From Your Windows

pots with plants inside
Indoor gardening. Image courtesy of Kim Woodbridge

If you have south- or west-facing windows that receive a decent amount of light, you can grow some food using natural sunlight, even during winter months. The best choices for this type of setup are root and leaf vegetables like beets, radishes, onions, carrots, and lettuce. Just make sure to take steps to prevent any water damage to your window sills. Check out the wide variety of organic seeds available to help you get started!

Supplement With Grow Lights

You can purchase grow lights to give your plants additional light. With the additional light, you can grow plants like tomatoes and strawberries in addition to the plants you can grow with natural light.

There are many lighting options to choose from. Among the most popular indoor grow lights for home use are fluorescent and LED lights. The more environmentally friendly LED grow lights have gained traction recently, with grow light bars, bulbs, and arrays available at competitive prices compared to older lighting systems.

Hydroponic Systems

Many companies are coming out with small, prefabricated hydroponic systems. The AeroGarden is a popular system that allows you to grow three to seven plants, depending upon the model. If you have more space and want to scale up your indoor hydroponic garden, only your imagination can limit you when it comes to hydroponics. You can purchase a system that’s ready to go or design your own. This article from WikiHow provides step-by-step instructions for three types of hydroponics systems.

aquaponics growing system
AeroGarden Harvest Elite hydroponics system. Image: Amazon

Aeroponic Systems

Similar to hydroponics, aeroponics allows you to grow plants without soil, but rather than having the roots emerged in water, they are misted with water. Tower gardens are a popular method of growing your food indoors using aeroponics, an approach taking hold in commercial farming, too. There are many other systems on the market as well, and you can even create your own aeroponics system in a 5-gallon bucket. Many of the makers of aeroponics systems now bill themselves as “cloning systems” because the aeroponics is useful for starting plants for transplant to soil.

Aquaponic Systems

One final option for growing food indoors is aquaponics. Unlike hydroponic and aeroponic systems, which require you to add nutrients to the water, an aquaponics system uses fish waste to fertilize your food so it’s a closed loop system. Back to the Roots offers a very basic aquaponics system for those interested in trying out this method.

If you have the room, you might be interested in something like the AquaUrban System by The Aquaponics Source. It features a 2’x 3.5′ growing space and a 60-gallon tank that’s big enough to grow edible fish. However, if you’re just getting started, you may prefer to start on a smaller scale so you can get to know how it works before you invest a lot in a bigger system.

Originally published on January 27, 2015, this article was updated in December 2022.

By Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.