Workshop on Winter Vegetables to Grow at Home
During the Winter season, outdoor activities are reduced and we love to stay warm and cozy indoors. We all know that a lot of plants also take a rest and go into a dormant phase in winter. So, does that mean that gardening stops in winter? Absolutely Not!
With the right amount of light, you can grow any Vegetables, herbs, fruits & other leafy greens at home that too organically. In winter months, when the sunlight is low & days are shorter you can enjoy greens grown on your terraces, gardens, and even on balconies. If you are planning for planting vegetables this winter then you are at the right place. We are bringing you a step-by-step guide to a list of vegetables you can start growing now.
Watch our workshop on “Winter Vegetables to Grow at Home” with our speaker Raksha Agrawal. A student of Chartered Accountancy and a passionate gardener who has grown and harvested a variety of vegetables at home and will share with us her ideas and tips. You can connect with her on her Instagram page “gardenwithher” https://bit.ly/31D4WUU
Raksha and her tips for growing winter veggies:
“Hello, everyone. Welcome to another workshop by TAOS. Today we have with us, Miss Raksha Agarwal. Let me introduce you to our viewers. She is a student of CA, but she also loves gardening. Today, she will be telling us how we can grow vegetables at home during winter. So, let’s get started,” said Zehra.
“Hello, all. I realized my passion for gardening in 2020, and I have been into it ever since. My favorite part of gardening is growing vegetables. I have grown lots of vegetables till now, including Okra, Spinach, Bottle gourd, Bitter gourd, etc. Today, I will introduce five vegetables you can grow in your home. I will take you through each step to make sure you are able to get it right.
Coming first to soil moisture, if you overwater it, the algae start to develop on the soil, which is damageable for the plant. Likewise, keeping it dry will also be detrimental to your veggies. So, you need to keep a moderate approach when coming to soil moisture, and that will ensure your veggies grow well.
Then, your vegetables need very rich, well-drained soil. It should have the right amount of fertilizer and nutrients and also enough drainage holes. I keep many holes in my pot and cover them with diyas to prevent soil from seeping out. Next, the composition should be a 60-40 ratio. The 60% should comprise plain garden soil, while 40% should be fertilizer of any kind. I would recommend vermicompost and cow dung fertilizers as they are affordable and easily available. I would also be adding cocopeat to the mixture. Coco peat is made out of coconut husks, which provides proper drainage to the soil. Depending upon the veggie, you can use either soil or cocopeat. This composition will give you a well-drained soil mix.
I’d next like to elaborate on the various types of containers that you use. You can use any container that is available at your home. The only thing that is required is proper sunlight for at least 6 to 7 hours a day. You can use 15*15 inches containers or growing bags; that’s the ideal size for growing veggies. Coming to the price of the containers:
- The pots would cost around 70-80 rs.
- The growing bag would be around 140-150 in the market.
- The 5kg Vermicompost would cost 290rs.
- The 5kg cocopeat would cost around 250 rs.
- Garden soil can be found locally. On Amazon, 5 kg garden soil comes for about 350rs.
Now, we’ll start with the vegetables. The first one I’ll be talking about is tomatoes. All you have to do is get some tomatoes from your kitchen, then cut them in half. Take a pot with garden soil mix, scoop out the seeds from the tomatoes, and spread the seeds over the soil. Take another thin layer of soil, and spread it over the seeds. Then, water it gently and put it in full sunlight for 7-8 hours. You’ll find seedlings in less than a week. Once your seedling gets 10-12 inches high, you need to transplant them in the final container in which you can grow them,” said Raksha.
“This was wonderful to know how we can easily grow them from the seeds,” said Zehra.
“One tricky thing about tomatoes is that they have tiny hairs on them. They need to be buried deep because these hairs will develop into roots, which will hold the soil strongly. The tomatoes will be ready in 60-70 days. Harvesting depends upon what level you want. If you want green tomatoes, harvest them early, but if you want plum red tomatoes, you harvest them after some time. When the plants are about 18 inches tall, you will need to provide them support, for which you can use any stick.
Some tips for your tomatoes that I would give is that when your tomatoes have grown yellow flowers, you can pollinate them by brushing the flowers softly for 30 seconds every day. It will ensure that you get a big harvest. Now, the criteria required include the following:
- 6-7 hours of direct sunlight.
- 15⁰c-20⁰c range of temperature.
- Only as much water as it will keep the soil moist.
- Fertilizers will be needed every 10-15 days. You can use vermicompost, or 10-15ml of seaweed solution in 5 liters of water, and provide 200 ml of the solution to each plant.
When the tomatoes become 10-12 inches tall, pinch off the top part to induce more growth. So, that’s all about tomatoes.
Now, moving on to Spinach. Spinaches are quite tricky to grow. You have to take the same soil mix and then spread the Spinach seeds over the soil. Your top surface should not be overcrowded. A gap of a minimum of one inch should be present. Then, spread some soil on the seeds, water it, and keep it in a spot where it gets 7-8 hours of sunlight daily. The germination will start within a week. Do water them very gently, and make sure you don’t overwater them. Also, do not water the plant from over the leaves. If you do so, your plant will attract many diseases. Make sure you use sterilized scissors for harvesting.
- Keep your soil moist but not soggy
- 18⁰c-20⁰c temperature is ideal for the plant.
- Any kind of fertilizer can be used. You need to fertilize them every 20-25 days.
Coming to tips for Spinaches, the upper part of the Spinach should be cut off. The root and only a little part of the shoot are all that need to be planted for propagation. The deeper you are able to plant the root, the better grip it will have on the soil. Make sure the roots you use good roots for the purpose,” said Raksha.
“In how many days do we get the plant?”
“You will get the plant within a month to 45 days. Three times you can harvest your spinach; after that, it becomes unusable. You can also collect seeds from the mature plant, which you can collect and use for the next season. One more thing is that Spinach is a micro-green, so when they reach 4-5 inches, you can start using them already, and you can eat them raw. It is very healthy to eat micro greens on a daily basis. That was it for Spinaches.
Let us now talk about Carrots and Radishes now. They are very easy to grow in a garden. Use good quality seeds; you can get them at any local store or online store. The ideal season for them is October to December. The seeds will germinate in 8-10 days. You can harvest carrots in 75-90 days, while radishes get mature within 45-60 days, depending upon the variety of the radish. Every 20-25 days, you need to provide compost. Also, you can’t expect a grocery type of vegetable. You have to do the weeding of the plant, but very gently. Remove the weaker saplings, or they will absorb the nutrients meant for the stronger saplings. So, one question comes up, which is when to harvest them. Since they grow underground, it becomes difficult to judge when to harvest them. So, when you see the crown of the radish or carrot coming out of the ground, it is mature enough to harvest. Also, don’t keep your vegetable in the soil for so long that it starts getting bitter. You should harvest them before they start to get ripe. You’ll find flowers coming out of the radish if you don’t harvest it in time, and the flowers will develop into mogri, which again are edible. The flowers also attract many kinds of natural pollinators. However, they also attract pests, hence at your own risk. They don’t like being displaced. The more direct sunlight they receive, the better they will grow. Keep the soil properly moist as well. So, that is all about the Carrots and Radishes,” said Raksha.
“That was indeed very knowledgeable, truth to tell,” said Zehra.
“Then, I’ll discuss how you can keep pests off the plants. For this, you’ll need the following:
- Neem oil
- A mild liquid soap.
- A spray bottle.
- Baking soda.
So, just take your spray bottle, take half a tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of mild liquid soap, and pour it into the bottle. Fill half the bottle with water, and then shake it for some time. Then take one tablespoon of neem oil in water, and shake it well. The solution is ready to use, and it repels many kinds of pests, in fact, over two hundred kinds. You need to treat them every 7 days.
“How do you take care of slugs?”
“You can use this solution in the first place. There is another way where you’ll need two bulbs of turmeric and one bulb of garlic. You properly crush them into pieces and add one liter of water and 10-15 ml of neem oil. Boil the mixture properly for 10 mins, let it cool down, and then put it in a spray bottle and use it,” said Zehra.
“Moving on to cauliflower, you again need to use good quality seeds for them. The seeds start germinating in a week, and when they are 5-6 inches tall, you need to transplant them in a big container. Now, you need to sow the seeds 5-6 inches apart because the plant will require a good amount of space to develop roots properly. Cauliflower or cabbage takes 50-80 days to become a single flower. Also, after harvesting, you need to discard the plant.
- 20⁰c-26⁰c temperature is ideal for the plant.
- You need to fertilize them every 20-25 days; vermicompost or seaweed solution would work well.
If you keep the cauliflower head in the open, it will turn blackish and will even attract pests. Take a big leaf of the plant and cover the head with it to prevent this from happening,” said Raksha.
“The same thing goes for broccoli and cabbage as well?”
“Yes, they do. For the soil composition, you can use one part of gardening soil, one part compost, and one part of cocopeat, as they need thoroughly well-drained soil.”
“If cow dung manure is ruining the plant, what to do?”
“In that case, don’t use cow dung directly. Turn it into compost first, then use it. It is preferable to get it from the proper place, and it is very organic in nature; hence shouldn’t ruin your plant. To some extent, it even depends upon the diet of the cows.”
“Any suggestion on low-light vegetables?”
“In my opinion, no vegetable is a low-light vegetable. Direct sunlight is essential to grow your vegetables properly. You have to grow them on your balcony, or terrace, any place that receives 7-8 hours of direct sunlight,” said Raksha.
“Okay, you can proceed,” said Zehra.
“Coming next to the last vegetable of the day, we’ll talk about brinjals. Make sure you keep them away from monkeys. Harvesting it in a big shape will remove the sweetness, so harvest early. Keep the seeds 1-2 inches apart. A well-drained soil is essential so that you can use the 60-40 combination. You can also use cocopeat or sand to make it even more well-drained. It is a perennial plant and grows year-round. However, it grows best in December-January. When the plant is 4-6 inches high, you need to transplant it. Take out the sapling along with the soil, as it won’t disturb the roots. Transplant them in bigger containers of 15*15 inches. They will start flowering in 15-20 days. You need to provide the plant with support; you can preferably use a paintbrush for that. You can pollinate it yourself as well since they are present in the same plant. You can just rub the anther gently with a brush and rub it again where the stigma is located. Since natural pollinators aren’t always available, hand pollination can serve as a good option. This will ensure you get a bulk harvest. You can harvest the brinjals in 80-90 days. One more tip: Pinch out the top part from the node to encourage branching of the plant when they are about 4-5 inches long. Also, make sure you provide enough space for your plants. So, if you abide by all the steps that I have mentioned here, I can assure you, you will yield a good harvest,” said Raksha.
“That was a wonderful session. Thank you so much for joining us today.”