In urban landscapes, anyone who wants to have the experience of growing food turns to indoor gardening out of necessity. There simply isn’t much accessibility to outdoor plots in most apartment complexes, and food deserts make produce sparsely accessible. However, even those with expanses of land turn to planting in their homes when they’re slogging through the blustery winter months.

With increased technology—such as lighting and watering systems that mimic outdoor environments—the idea of eating a freshly harvested tomato in Minnesota in February is very feasible. But, even those who aren’t interested in spending loads of money to feast on organic food can have success inside.

“As with anything, start small,” recommends Holly Baird, who runs The Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener website and films instructional YouTube videos with her husband Joey. “If you don’t have much experience and you want to grow indoors, maybe start with some herbs in a windowsill.”

Basil, rosemary, sage, marjoram, and thyme succeed without too much sun or watering, and they can easily be incorporated into winter recipes, such as soups and stews. Plus, they’re handy to have within easy reach in your kitchen at Thanksgiving, especially.

Greens and root vegetables are also a good choice when raising produce in a home, since the amount of light needed is such a critical factor in any cultivating. “In general, if you eat the leaves [of a vegetable], they’ll tolerate the least amount of sun,” explains Melinda Myers, gardening expert and host of The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening for Everyone” DVD set.

Good inside vegetables include radishes, baby carrots, peas, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, arugula, and microgreens, or the sprouts of leafy greens. Some citrus, surprisingly, can also thrive in unexpected environments if the temperature and lighting are controlled. Meyer lemons are good for beginners, according to Myers, and have the additional benefit of fragrant flowers. Baird also starts her spring and summer seeds in the winter, since it gives them some time to flourish before they are transplanted outside.

The important thing to keep in mind with any interior vegetation is the position of windows: South-facing ones are best, but East and West windows can work in a pinch. “You just have to move your plants back and forth with the sun,” explains Stephen Ouldhouse, an employee at Planet Natural, a gardening supply store. Avoid putting anything that needs sun in a Northern exposure.

Fluorescent and LED lights are also worth the purchase for those who want to expand their plots and ensure that they can control exactly how much luminosity is received. “If you only have the space for indoor growing, a light is worth the investment,” Baird says, since vegetation can require up to 14 hours of light a day, and many winter-ridden states provide much less than that on a daily basis.

Myers also recommends keeping the illumination six inches above any potted growth and placing something reflective underneath, whether it’s a decorative mirror or painted white surface.

Those who are serious about crops year-round can also consider hydroponics, a method of raising edibles and flowers without soil that provides nutrients in a controlled manner. Kits are sold with containers and means to test the pH of non-soil potting materials to gauge the best acidity. It may sound intimidating, but Ouldhouse says once he was able to get a handle on the correct balance of nutrients in a hydroponics system, he cut his time spent on caring for plants to 10 or 15 minutes a day.

Indoor horticulturists also need to keep an eye on the temperature of the house and the amount of moisture in the air, especially in winter months. That may mean a closer monitoring of how often vegetables are watered and testing for dryness. Myers suggests using fingers as a moisture meter. When the potting substance has the consistency of a dry sponge, it likely needs to be watered again.

“It’s just finding that fine line between keeping it very slightly moist and not letting it get too dry,” Myers expands.

Growing material is also important; outside soil won’t work in the home. Potting mixture is a better bet, supplemented with fertilizer, which is likely already included depending on the type of mix. Local garden centers can also help navigate the world of coco coir, perlite, and peat moss, which are basically just different mediums to facilitate healthy farming.

Indoor work may not seem worth it for a smaller ration of crops through some cold months, but working with nature in general has been shown to be beneficial.

“It’s more challenging than gardening outside, but it can be done. There’s so much research on the value of gardening for adults: it calms our mood and reduces blood pressure,” Myers expands. “But, for kids that are involved in nature and gardening, it makes them more focused. Plus, it’s something to keep them busy when they’re inside all winter.”

Windowsill herb boxes can make a good gift, she suggests, and children can be part of the process of assembling them.

Off-months also provide a good time to experiment. Myers has heard of newer varieties of bananas that may work in lower light conditions. “I have not met anyone who’s had success growing bananas indoors, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” she says. “Part of the fun is experimenting and trying new things. It’s not the same harvest you’re going to get outdoors.”

In Islam, cultivating natural goods is also a form of giving. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him [PBUH]) said, “There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him” (Bukhari).

Children and adults alike are also more prone to eating healthier when they’re the ones actually putting in the time to care for and harvest vegetables. Plus, Ouldhouse thinks there’s something unique about knowing where food comes from and experimenting with new varieties.

“You’re not just limited to a Roma or a cherry tomato from the store; you can really get a lot more and have a lot more options,” he says. “I think [homegrown fruits and vegetables] taste better, too, to be honest. I can really tell the difference.”

Nadia Malik holds a degree in journalism and is a former reporter for a Chicago-area newspaper. She has written for websites and publications and has also worked for several non-profit organizations.