10 winter vegetables to grow in pots

After what seemed like eternity the air seems to be getting cooler now. Winters will set in soon and that means boom time for kitchen gardeners in the tropics. You can grow a huge variety of colorful and nutritious vegetables in your container garden from November to February when the temperature stays between 15° and 30° in most parts of India. Most of these vegetables are very easy to grow and do just fine with minimal care. Here is my top ten list of vegetables to grow in pots this winter.

Tomato

Tomato is a great vegetable to grow in winters in India
Tomato is a great vegetable to grow in winters in India

Tomato is probably the favorite vegetable of most gardeners. There are a lot of varieties of tomato that you can grow which include many exotic varieties. Cherry tomatoes is something you ought to have in your garden as they can be grown in even 7-8 liter pots. When you taste the tomatoes grown by you organically I bet you’ll never feel like buying them from the store. And the joy of growing this beautiful and juicy vegetable is priceless.

Beans

Beans are container gardening friendly
Beans are container gardening friendly

Beans is another vegetable to grow in pots in winter and that too very easily. It is not a heavy eater and hence you can grow beans even in small containers. Bush varieties of beans are suitable for container gardening. However if you can build a trellis, you can go for a climber variety and save on lateral space in your garden. Typically people grow french beans in winters. But my favorite leguminous vegetable to grow in pots in winters is flat beans beans because of its intense flavor.

Beans serves another important purpose in your garden. As they belong to leguminous family they also help to fix nitrogen in the soil.


Tip – Treating beans seeds with azospirillum bio fertilizer before sowing increases the amount of nitrogen fixed in the soil by a large amount.


Spinach

The true spinach is spinach from your garden
The true spinach is spinach from your garden

Spinach loses its nutrients quite fast after its plucked. In fact some varieties of spinach loose more than 90% of their nutrients within 24 hours. So eating store bought spinach which takes at least three days to reach your table from the farm is no good at all in terms of nutrients you get from them. Hence you ought to grow spinach in your garden and eat them as fresh as you can. Additionally it is one of the easiest things you can grow. Just sow the seeds and water. Growing spinach in containers is as simple as it can get. And they can be grown even in a shallow container. That is why spinach makes it to my top ten vegetables to grow in pots in Indian winters.

Radish

Radish is easy to grow winter vegetable
Radish is easy to grow winter vegetable

My mom loves radish when its cooked. But I love it raw. Nothing can beat fresh radish from your garden sprinkled with a little salt and chilli powder. Apart from taste the other reason that makes this root vegetable so good to grow is its short germination to harvest time. Depending on variety your radish can be ready to harvest between 30 to 50 days time. And if you were wondering how to grow these beauties here is a comprehensive guide on how to grow radish in containers.

Lettuce

Lettuce is the best salad green to grow in winters
Lettuce is the best salad green to grow in winters

To really understand why lettuce is such a loved salad green you need to pluck and eat it. The texture and taste of lettuce can really be enjoyed if you eat it directly from your garden. In most parts of India it is also not commonly eaten. Hence it is difficult to find even in super stores. And even if you get lucky I am sure you wont get it fresh. So go ahead and plant some lettuce in your garden this winter. Pick few different varieties and plant them around your house. Different colors and curly leaves also make lettuce very decorative by nature.

Bell Peppers

Grow bell peppers of different colors
Grow bell peppers of different colors

Bell pepper or capsicum is a very popular vegetable in India as it is used in Indian, Chinese, European and all other kinds of cooking. People also love it in salads. It is very versatile and you can grow them in containers as they are not heavy eaters and don’t need too much space to grow. With timely application of compost and organic fertilizers like Amrut Jal and Panchagavya you can get a bountiful of harvest from your capsicum plants.


Tip – Instead of the green capsicum which is commonly available you can go for the colored varieties like yellow, red and orange bell peppers as one of the vegetables to grow in pots in tropical winters.


Carrot

Carrots take time but are hassle free
Carrots take time but are hassle free

Carrots take a lot of time to grow. It can sometimes take even a hundred days from germination day to be ready to be picked. But still this still makes it to the list of vegetables to grow in pots in winters because this can be used as a companion plant to many of the other vegetables like tomatoes. And it also does not really require much space on its own. In just three square feet space you can harvest more than a kilo of carrots.

Cauliflower and Cabbage

Cauliflower is shallow rooted and hence grows in pots easily
Cauliflower is shallow rooted and hence grows in pots easily

When you are thinking of growing vegetable in pots rooting structure plays a very important role in selecting the vegetables. Shallow rooting vegetables are excellent for container gardening. Cauliflower and Cabbage are shallow rooting and early harvest vegetables. Moreover in one winter season you can have at least two crop cycles. So they are excellent to plant in your kitchen garden in winters. Here is a detailed guide on how to grow organic cauliflowers in containers for your reference.

Microgreens and Herbs

Coriander can be used both as a micro green and a herb
Coriander can be used both as a micro green and a herb

Microgreens are relatively new concept of food in India, but it is catching up really quick. They are basically immature green saplings of varieties of plants harvested within a month of germination. They are cut off at the base of the plant and are eaten mostly raw. They add a lot of intense flavor, texture and color to your dishes and are great in terms of nutrition. As these also need to be eaten fresh you have to grow them at home. Some of the seeds that you can use for growing your microgreens are lettuce, spinach, mustard, fenugreek, radish, beet root, kale, coriander etc. Winter is also the best time to plant herbs like coriander, mint and basil. The best part about microgreens and herbs is that they can even be grown in your windowsill provided you get 3-4 hours of sunlight there.

Ginger

Ginger is the lazy man's winter vegetable
Ginger is the lazy man’s winter vegetable

No one would really put ginger in the list of vegetables to grow in pots in winters in India. But this surely is one of the best things you can plant if you are short on time and can not look after your plants regularly. Ginger pods start showing sprouts in late winter and that is when you plant them. Once you plant them you can literally forget about them except for occasional watering when soil becomes dry. You need a container that is at lest one foot deep to plant ginger. But once planted they take care of themselves and need very little help from you. They are ready to be harvested in 6-8 months time and you’ll be surprised at the amount of ginger you get from your containers.


So that was my top ten vegetables to grow in pots in winters in India. I have already started seeds for most of these and looking forward to a bountiful harvest this season too. For those who are new to container gardening here some help. This beginner’s guide to growing vegetables in pots should be of help to you. I’ll be back with a new post soon. Till then keep well and happy gardening.

Benefits of Gardening : Infographics

One of our reader Peter Kimzey of Yo Innovation came up with an infographics on benefits of gardening and shared with us. We liked it and after some minor changes that we suggested the infographics looked really good. So we decided to share it with you.

Thank you Peter for this beautiful and informative image. If any of you would like to share anything useful here do let us know by dropping a mail at [email protected]

Benefits of Gardening
Benefits of Gardening

So…. What is Terrace Gardening ?

Terrace gardening, Container gardening and a few more such terms are in vogue today. Sometimes one comes across related terms like city farming or urban farming which makes things even more confusing.  In essence these are nothing but your good old kitchen garden.  Yes it is that simple. Though there are subtle differences (which I’ll touch upon later in this post), in spirit these terms are used only to refer to the activity of growing fruits and vegetables in the confines of your homes. We generally use the terms terrace gardening and container gardening because that is exactly what this site is about.

Terrace Garden

Simply put terrace gardening is the set of activities that one does to grow food in unused spaces of one’s home that is conducive to grow food. Technically one can grow everything from cereals, pulses to herbs. But growing cereals and pulses in terraces and balconies for consumption is a little far-fetched as of today. Hence terrace gardening really refers to growing vegetables and a few fruits in unused spaces of one’s home. And since these are grown mostly in containers it is also known as container gardening.

As urban open areas are shrinking in size every day the only real viable place that one can grow one’s own vegetables then becomes the balcony. If you are lucky to live in an independent house with a terrace then there is nothing like it. A 30 square feet balcony can yield sufficient green leaves and a few vegetables while a terrace of 1000 sq feet can fulfill 50% vegetable requirements of a family of four. All it takes is some planning and imagination to utilize the available area and resources efficiently and effectively.

Recycling is Organic

A Kitchen garden is not only a place where food is grown; it is also a place where all the food waste from home is recycled. According to a survey about six meals are wasted per week per household in the US. In India itself about 40% of the food is wasted according to United Nations Development Program. That’s a huge deal of food to be wasted. And having a kitchen garden at home ensures that one’s home becomes a zero food waste home as all food waste is typically recycled back to feed the plants.

Urban Farming

That was terrace gardening in a nut shell. So what about urban farming and city farming!

Urban Farming or City Farming is defined as growing fruits, vegetable and herbs and raising animals in cities. Terrace gardening also comes under the bigger umbrella of urban farming. But while city farming is a more organized and community based activity, terrace farming is a personal or family based activity. However in some cases community gardening is also done in terraces of public buildings which have huge amount of space.

Organic Terrace Garden

You can grow food in your home using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. But then the whole point of growing your own food is lost. When one is growing one’s own food certainly she wants that food to be free of chemicals and poisons read fertilizers and pesticides. Moreover use of such chemicals is not only extremely bad for our health but also for the health of mother earth. Hence for us by default terrace gardening is only about growing food in an organic and sustainable manner using only organic resources and waste available.

Way of Life

For us terrace gardening not just a term. It’s a spiritual way of life. It makes one more aware of the environment and hence empathetic towards the earth and life. More on that in the next post. For now I’ll leave you with a quote from the legendary Masanobu Fukuoka of the one straw revolution fame.

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings”