Traditionally winter, especially the months of January and February is the time when people suffer from the "Winter Blues" or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). To many regions, including the Mid-Ohio Valley, winter seems to have come earlier than usual with our first snow sightings in November and several snow days already for school children in December. The holidays are over, the beautiful tree and ornaments are packed away and football champions are ready to be crowned once again.
When we look outside for beauty, what Mother Nature hasn't blanketed with drifts of snow, is brownish-gray, drab and dreary. The green and other vibrant colors of spring, summer, and fall have long faded. But several species of birds that winter in cold regions continue to provide color, so keep feeding them.
Now, right after your other New Year's resolutions, is the time for you to plan and prepare for next spring's backyard vegetable garden. Last fall was actually the optimal time to set aside a plot, turn it over, add compost, and wait for winter freezing and thawing and a snow cover to help ready the soil for spring planting. But why wait until spring to actually start your garden? Consider an indoor winter garden area that will allow you to not only start plants from seeds, propagate root cuttings, raise flowering foliage and vegetable plants, but provide your family with a variety of healthy, nutritious vegetables, fruits and herbs throughout the dreary winter days.
There are many reasons to grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs: they taste better than store-bought; you have fewer worries about contamination from pesticide use. It's more economical to walk to your indoor garden area for your food as opposed to driving to the local super market to get produce delivered from hundreds or thousands of miles away where it is picked unripe and sprayed with gas to give it color. With an indoor winter garden you will get exercise in an enjoyable and useful way as you bend, squat, carry, etc., and exert energy that you normally wouldn't during the cold winter days as you tend to your garden.
If this is your first time indoor winter gardening, start small. Don't try to plants that take a lot of room. Consider the size of your indoor garden area as you plan what to plant. Of course you will plant tomatoes. Even people who don't garden plant a few tomato plants. Containers and grow bags are great; have you ever seen potatoes grown in a grow bag or tomatoes and peppers in a 5-gallon bucket? It can be done. And rather well I might say.
There is no end of growing season with indoor winter gardening. In fact it's always growing season. Your indoor winter garden can actually become a year-round garden and supplement your traditional backyard garden. This would be ideal for those garden enthusiasts who may want to add exotic or rare plants to their garden area during the spring and summer months while traditional vegetables, fruits and herbs are being grown with natural sunlight.
Sunlight; without it all life would die. During the winter months sunlight seems nearly nonexistent or provides low light in much of the earth's northern regions causing people who have normal mental health (HYPERLINK en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_health" \o "Mental health") throughout most of the year to experience depressive (HYPERLINK "en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depression_(mood)" \o "Depression (mood)") symptoms in the winter. Most commonly known as Winter Depression or Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), tends to come back year after year.
Treatment is available for SAD. Winter-onset SAD is most likely caused by your body's reaction to the lack of sunlight. Light therapy is one option for treating this type of SAD because increased light, can improve symptoms. So how and where do you get light therapy during the winter months to combat that blah feeling? By tending to and reaping the rewards of your indoor winter garden with its fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and vibrant flowers growing under artificial lights that simulate the sun's spectrums.
The many benefits of your indoor winter garden are healthy, nutritious vegetables, fruits and herbs; exercise from working your garden; therapeutic artificial light that not only gives your plants needed light to produce, but gives you the needed amount of light and spectrum to beat the Winter Blues. And oh yeah, did I mention that another benefit is that you get extra oxygen from your plants to also help fight the Winter Blues. That's a good thing.
Visit your local garden center for assistance to start your own indoor winter garden to beat those Winter Blues before they even get started.
Don and Sandy Landers are owners of Dream Garden Hydroponics, LLC.