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Slide 16

Besides counting the days until spring, what can gardeners do when the ground is frozen and it’s just too cold to spend much time outdoors?

Winter’s a great time of year to pamper indoor plants that add so much color and texture to the home. While your potted plants do go through a winter dormancy period and their growth slows, they still need watering and dusting. Dust blocks sunlight from plant leaves. One way to clear off the dust is to gently wipe each leaf with a damp cloth or just give your plants a rinse in the shower.

Depending upon where you live, seed starting can begin as early as January. For those in colder regions, February or March is the time to start many seeds. Most seed packets have information on planting according to growing zones. Seed starting offers tremendous benefits in terms of the great variety of seeds available.

If you’ve got a big kitchen window, set some mason jars full of soil and seedlings on the sill or mount them on the wall, for a sunny and safe spot for flourishing herbs during the colder months. Choose your favorite cooking herbs, so that you’ll have the materials you like on hand, fresh and ready to go!

Many of the same herbs that make delicious flavorings, as well as those that fragrance the garden and attract pollinators, are also wonderful for body care. Rosemary and thyme are great for muscle aches and inflammation, lavender is relaxing and antibacterial, and sage is known for making hair thicker, shinier and stronger. Herbs can be blended for both culinary use and as bath salts.

Planters full of greenery can make you think you’ve never left the garden. You can spread them out to different rooms all around your house, or create a special garden room, devoted to your indoor plants and perfect for a tranquil hour or two. Many plants thrive indoors with little need for sunlight, but if you prefer the sunny varieties, just place plants near a window, so they’re surrounded by the warmth of your home but still think they’re outdoors.

Countertop fairy gardens are a fabulous way to keep up your planting and pruning skills this season. Depending on what tiny plants you pick you can use just about any container you choose. Plan the perfect layout, and create your own little garden, with a mix of mini flowers and figurines, all on your countertop.

Though this is similar to a fairy garden, the real beauty of succulent terrariums is that you can group a few together in a bigger glass bowl, or, because succulents are so beautiful all on their own, you can have one stand alone in a smaller jar or bottle. You can hang them around the house, place them on the counter or tabletop, or use them to brighten up a bathroom.

Take your gardening motivation in a recycling direction, and re-grow vegetable scraps! Certain types of root vegetables, like onions and scallions and certain letuces can be completely regrown and reused, by just sitting them in a glass of water and clipping them when needed.

Indoor gardens come in all shapes and sizes, so there are many opportunities to be creative with your space. Whether you’re using shelves (great for saving space), window boxes, tables or other containers, consider the amount space you have.

When possible, natural light is going to be the best option. But this isn’t realistic for everyone, especially those living in an urban setting. Supplement the sun with these types of lights in your home. Incandescent lights work well for low-light plants. But if your garden is made up of anything besides vines, ferns and the like, you’re going to need to bump it up to fluorescent lights. Normally recommended for starting vegetables, fluorescent lights are ideal for plants that need low to medium lights. These bulbs also use much less energy than their incandescent counterparts (like over 75% less). This is a good option if you’re a beginner indoor gardener.

Next to lighting, low humidity will likely be your biggest challenge, especially during the dry winter months. Mist plants with water on at least a daily basis Fill up a bowl or tray of water and place it near your indoor plants.

So when should you water? Do the finger test. As a general rule, stick your finger into the potting soil. If the soil’s moist, don’t water the plant. If it’s dry, water. It’s as simple as that. Also remember to freshen up soil or transplant root bound plants. Remember to give indoor plants a good feeding every once in awhile.

Winter’s also a great time to figure out how much lime and fertilizer you’ll need to add to your landscape beds. If you haven’t done a soil sample in the past three years (or ever), no worries. Winter’s still a good time to get one done – as long as your ground isn’t frozen solid. We have soil tester kits.

Still can’t get enough of the outdoors? Well, if you didn’t already do it in fall, get your gardening tools ready for spring. Check to see if you’ve got all the tools you need for the growing season, and make sure they’re clean, sharp and ready to work come spring. If they’re not, clean your tools, sharpen the blades and make a run to the store to replace or repair any broken equipment.

Happy Winter Gardening!



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