Winter Gardening

Winter is a time to relax and take it easy. After the hectic fall harvest has wound down, winter is a respite. But it is still nice to have a little green inside, and have some garden projects to attend to. Of course, options abound. Forcing bulbs is a popular winter activity– paperwhites, snowdrops, crocus and hyacinth are all popular choices. Bulbs need a cold period in order to flower, so keeping them in the fridge (potted up) for 6 weeks (or until  you see shoots appearing) will do the trick. Never let the bulbs dry out. Once the shoots appear, remove them from cold storage and place them in indirect light, being careful never to let the soil dry out. In another 6 weeks or so, you’ll have blooms.

Another easy winter garden activity is to grow wheat grass. Just direct seed into a flat of soil. Wheat grass provides a neat touch of green to a windowsill, and can also be used in smoothies and health drinks if you are so inclined.

You can also try growing salad greens, but you’ll likely need to provide supplemental light and provide extra humidity by placing your pots on a tray of pebbles filled with water, because many homes tend to have quite dry air in the winter because of the use of heating systems.

 If you’re feeling crafty as well as wanting a touch of green, crafting a miniature garden can be fun. There are a lot of neat options– you’ll want a flat planter (a 6 inch deep rubbermaid would suffice) and choose smaller-scale, easy to grow plants. For example, you could do a formal garden with pea gravel paths and herbs planted in geometric patterns. Add some picket fencing or garden statuary (dollhouse accessories are perfect for this) to complete the look. Or you could craft a woodland village– use moss as your ground cover, then create miniature cottages out of balsam wood and cover them with bark and shingles made of pinecones (Martha Stewart did something similar to this in one of her magazines). We always used to make things like this when I was a kid. You could even craft little trees out of the leftover trimmings from the Christmas tree.

Winter is also a good time to set up gardens or try something new that you didn’t have time for during the summer– an indoor bog or water garden, a terrarium, carnivorious plants, topiary, or bonsai.