Author Options:

Advice for starting an apartment herb or vegetable garden in extremely dry and cold climate? Answered

I live in the North and can't seem to get anything to grow let alone stay alive! We have snow on the ground Sept to May/June and between Nov to Apr the temp is usually -22F to -49F. It's extremely dry as well. As I live in an apartment, I am limited in floor space and need to keep them away from the windows as they freeze over (too drafty). It should be said that  I'm a beginner at green things - before moving up here, things stayed alive at least (maybe not flourish) but here, EVERYTHING seems to die!


You should try container gardens particularly hanging planters. You can have a corner green house with articifical lighting. There are also several plants that are cold tolerent that could go in the window sill such as cabbages and Kales which are winter crops.

Join a gardening club or horticultural society.  You'll meet lots of people who know how to keep plants alive and thriving in your climate.  They'll love you especially if you're under 60 years old.

Mint and lettuce are probably going to be the best edibles to begin with.  If you can grow baby leaf lettuce and mint successfully indoors, then you can try the more difficult plants.  Lettuce is a cold-season crop and can take temperatures down to freezing or sometimes below.  Mint is a weed and will survive just about anything.  Both are shallow rooted and don't require a lot of space.

Some gardeners will put humidifiers near their plants or tent them indoors.  Humidity will also help protect the plants from the cold.  You can buy seed starting trays with plastic tents at home improvement and garden stores.

Light is going to be an issue, but Re-design posted a source on lighting.  There are also lots of other sources on how to grow plants indoors and recreate their sunlight requirements.

Do a bit of research on potting soils.  I'd recommend mixing your own because then you'll have a lot more control.  There are several sources online that show how to mix potting soils for different plants.

Use glazed or plastic pots.  Avoid terracotta if evaporation is an issue.

Some gardeners will also use heating mats to keep the roots warm and start seeds.  Some seeds need a certain temperature to germinate such as tomatoes.  A lot of plants will survive cold ambient temperatures so long as they have warm soil.

Start a garden blog to keep track of how your exploits go.  It'll be good to look back on and have a record of what you did, what worked, what didn't, and what to do next.  People will also comment and give advice.  Blotanical.com is a garden blog networking site and will attract fellow gardeners to your blog.

Here's a great workup on growing indoor gardens.  Hope you haven't seen it yet.

You have to be careful with what you pick to grow.  Some plants CAN NOT be grown inside to produce a harvest.  You can get enough light easy enough but the hard part for me would be the watering.  I often over water inside plants just to be sure and ruin them that way.  If you can lick that problem then you might have better luck.

Good luck.