Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Grow Radishes and Carrots Indoors this Winter

Image: MartinKozák via Wikimedia Commons
Don’t let winter thwart your love of gardening, especially if you live in a cold climate like the north. Try growing something new in a window box or container like radishes or carrots, both of which are easy to grow indoors. In a few simple steps you can provide your family with the taste of summer while the snow piles up outside.

Choose an Indoor Container

There are a few rules of thumb when it comes to choosing a container to grow radishes and carrots indoors. First, it must have drainage; your root vegetables will thank you. Radishes and carrots grow best in well-drained soil. Soggy soil often leads to root rot.

Secondly, the container needs to be at least twice the depth of the root vegetables when they reach maturity. For instance, if the variety of carrot you choose to grow matures at 4", your container should be at least 8" deep.

Thirdly, the container should be a proper fit in your home. Think about where you’ll be placing your containers - remember they need sun. Will you go with a window box or pots to line a sunny stairwell?  

Preparing the Soil for Indoor Growth

Radishes and carrots both prefer a light, well-drained sandy soil. Stay away from heavy soils like clay and loam. Think about the soil in your outdoor garden bed where you grow radishes and carrots. The soil in your indoor containers should mimic that soil.

Radishes and carrots don’t need to be fed quite as much as other heavy feeding vegetables. A little compost or man made fertilizer goes a long way. When fertilizing, keep the amount of nitrogen you introduce to the soil to a minimum. Too much nitrogen will cause your radishes and carrots to focus on growing foliage rather than developing their roots.

I prefer to grow organic vegetables, so I either use composted manure or finished compost. If you choose to buy a man made fertilizer, opt for one with a low nitrogen ratio. Look at the three numbers on the bag # - # - #, nitrogen should appear first.

Great Indoor Radish and Carrot Varieties

While there are some jumbo varieties of radishes, many have short, round roots making them great to grow in a container. The same can’t be said for carrots because some varieties can grow 10 - 12" in length. I’ve put together a list of varieties that will do well in an indoor container. If the local nursery is closed for the winter and the garden center doesn’t have any seeds in stock, check online. You can order from online seed catalogs at any time.

Indoor Radish Varieties

  • Cherry Belle
  • Champion
  • Black Spanish Round
  • Easter Egg
  • Rover

Indoor Carrot Varieties

  • Atlas: Matures at 2"
  • Baby Mokum: Matures at 4"
  • Caracus: Matures at 4 1/2"
  • Scarlet Nantes: Matures at 6"
  • Danvers Half Long: Matures at 6 - 7 ½"

Sowing for a Winter Crop

Sowing radish and carrots seeds is easy in a container. Simply follow the directions on the back of the seed packet remembering to thin the root vegetables once they reach a height of 2". To eliminate the thinning process and make sowing easier, make your own seed tapes.

When you grow radishes and carrots indoors during the winter, you’ll have a nice supply of fresh, crunchy vegetables that you’d normally have to buy at the grocery store. To make sure all your radishes and carrots aren’t ready for harvest at the same time, sow your seeds at different intervals. Growing vegetables indoors during the winter makes a great project for kids and is one that can be turned into a learning experience.

1 comment: