Many hobby gardeners switch back to purchased vegetables by autumn at the latest. Yields can also be achieved between October and March.
In winter the garden is dormant – mostly. Plants stop growing below certain temperatures, and even hardy plants have to struggle with the low solar radiation during the shorter and often overcast days. So what do you do as a hobby gardener? Rethink and be clever. Because gardening is possible despite adverse winter conditions. We’ll show you how.
Gardening on the windowsill
For winter gardening, you have to keep an eye on both temperature and radiation intensity – the latter register plants via a highly complex perception system, which has not yet been fully researched.
In fact, it looks like the simplest solution offers both in abundance: your own apartment. Because there is not only more than sufficient warmth there, but also light and also precisely controllable irrigation.
- In the end, all you need is a free window sill.
- The window should face south and the view of the sun should be free – so, if possible, there should be no shading of the low winter sun by neighboring houses, trees or the like.
- Then you only need plant boxes or large flower pots, soil and you can get started.
- It is not necessary to limit the plants to robust varieties.
- If you want, you can also install growth lamps on top to overcome the winter sun limitations.
Gardening in the cold frame
As nice as gardening on the windowsill is, it has one serious disadvantage: the space is already very limited. For more than a few tomato plants, a few heads of lettuce, there is usually not enough space. The alternative to this is the cold frame. In principle, it is a very low-rise greenhouse.
This either has an open floor and is simply placed in the existing vegetable patch, or it is extended by a floor and can then be set up in other places, maybe even the balcony.
Cold frames are the “simple-easy” solution. Quickly built and easy to use even in summer.
The nice thing about the raised bed is that it is a great do-it-yourself solution. A frame made of wood can be made with even the simplest tools and sometimes even wood waste. Add a plexiglass roof attached to hinges and the thing is there – in case of doubt even as an attachment for an existing, self-made raised bed.
This gives you more space and, even on cool spring and autumn days, can ensure that plants that are hungry for sun and warmth continue to thrive when it is still or too hard in the field.
However: the cold frame is not for sensitive plants. A light source can still be installed relatively easily, but there is simply no space for heat sources. If you need that and want to grow lots of summer delicacies even in winter, you need:
Gardening in the greenhouse
Admittedly, it is not that easy to find the right greenhouse. Because not only that there are countless variants and options for the finished models, but also that it is of course possible for experienced do-it-yourselfers to build themselves.
- With the greenhouse, depending on the size, state and place of residence, you can already enter building permit terrain. Anyone who simply buys or builds there, gets mail very quickly with a hefty request for payment.
- If you cannot use an existing subsurface, with most models it will also be necessary to build a clean foundation beforehand – if only so that cold from below is eliminated by insulation.
- But apart from such details, only the greenhouse is able to enable really “all inclusive” winter gardeners. Even in its bare form without helpers, it offers a lot of space with shelves set up inside. This sometimes goes so far that you can garden in the same house and also place winter-sensitive ornamental plants there.
Depending on what you spend, you can of course achieve a lot with a greenhouse, also in terms of yield.
There are a variety of accessories for gardening in the greenhouse. The trade has a huge selection of heat sources especially for this purpose.
This ranges from simple frost guards to ovens that develop enough power to be able to grow tropical fruits in the middle of the frostiest winter – and with the agony of choice, because all these heat sources are available as electric, gas or solid fuel operated option.
Automatic ventilation systems ensure that the ratio of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the greenhouse always remains at an optimal level. There are also lights and maybe even fully automatic irrigation systems.
Gardening in the winter garden
Many a house has a winter garden. But in most cases it is only a refuge for decorative items – the classic collection of beautiful plants and a cozy seating area. But wouldn’t the option also be offered here …?
Yes, of course it does. And actually really well. Because the winter garden is practically an XXL garden house, on which you hardly have to convert anything. You can take it easy, clear a corner and place plant boxes there.
Do winter gardens always have to be seating areas filled with ornamental plants? Of course not, they are also suitable as a greenhouse close to the house.
Do-it-yourselfers could also make square meter-sized, low boxes from OSB or MDF, line them and fill them with soil – if you try hard, you can even turn them into a real ornament. And then of course there are “no limit” gardeners without major additional costs. The winter garden is heated anyway.
And of course you cannot deny certain decorative properties of lettuce, French beans or chilli bushes sprouting in the middle of the snow.