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Whether it’s exploring the potential uses of hydroponic gardening, sowing a few seeds for a vegetable garden, or tending to indoor houseplants, many gardening activities can be done in the coldest winter months. Plus, they can benefit your personal health and wellness.

The winter season is one of the best times to get started on a few gardening techniques that are great for the environment and for your family’s health.

1. Grow indoor plants

Step one in your wintertime gardening plan should be to purchase and pot some houseplants.

Not only are many indoor plants easy to care for – just water once or twice per month and follow each plant’s label for sunlight exposure – but they’re also air purifiers. They help remove harmful indoor air pollutants at no extra energy cost. Instead of an expensive air purifier, consider some common houseplants that produce big results for better air, such as the peace lily, spider and snake plants, English ivy, or bamboo palm.

A local hardware store or nursery center can help you select some indoor plants, or you can consult one of several guides to get started. If you’re a veteran houseplant caretaker, you might also use the winter months to do some annual care and maintenance of plants – repotting when a plant has outgrown its container or adding new topsoil for sustained growth.

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2. Sow some seeds for a fruit and vegetable garden

If you’re plotting a vegetable garden for the spring, most garden professionals suggest planting a few seedlings indoors that will eventually grow into vine-ripened fruits and veggies throughout the summer.

Use the Farmer’s Almanac as your go-to guide for when to start planting seed varieties and how best to care for them in the winter months. And remember that seedlings need as much light as possible to get their start, so pick a sunny windowsill or use a grow light to give plants an extra boost.

And before you move those seedlings outdoors, be sure to do something that the Farmer’s Almanac calls “hardening off.” That includes spacing out watering periods, moving seedlings outdoors, and monitoring weather conditions for harmful sun, wind, or cold snaps.

3. Consider investing in a hydroponic garden

Of course, there are other ways to get fresh vegetables, herbs, and microgreens year-round. An indoor hydroponic garden – which uses mineral nutrient solutions delivered in a water solvent instead of soil – might be the best way to keep a green thumb going strong throughout the winter.

Several companies now sell small-scale hydroponic kits online, or you can take a DIY-approach by using common household items — coffee cans, Mason jars, storage bins, or drywall buckets — that might otherwise end up in a landfill or collecting dust around your home.

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Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a contributing writer for the Washington Post, Thrillist, Eater, and Matador Networks. Follow him on Twitter: @TimEbner.

Washington, DC