While it’s probably too late to bring in your plants now – annuals are most likely already spent and for other plants, the shock of indoor warmth would probably be too much to handle – there are plenty of things you can do this time of the year to bring some of that gardening joy into your home.
- Grow herbs. Many grocery stores and some florists sell potted herbs that you can easily grow on your windowsill to bring not only fresh flavor, but fresh fragrance as well. Try a new one or stick with your old standbys. Your cooking will benefit from a burst of fresh flavor, and so will those who eat your cooking. Overwatering and overfeeding are common causes of indoor plant death, so follow the directions on the tag or use the Internet to determine the specific care needs of each herb. Make sure herbs get plenty of sun and keep them out of drafts.
- Consider sprouts. If you want to add a boost of nutrition during the winter months, adding sprouts to your diet is a healthy way to do it, and their crunchy texture can perk up salads, sandwiches and other dishes. You can sprout lots of seeds – alfalfa and mung are the most common, but radishes, wheat, lentils, oats – even chickpeas can be sprouted. Use organic seeds harvested specifically for sprouting and decide whether you want to use a simple jar and cheesecloth or whether trays designed for sprouting are more to your liking.
- Try growing vegetables indoors. Some vegetables like lettuce and other greens, as well as celery, can be grown indoors as long as you have the right lighting. Investing in an indoor growing system can be costly, but search the Internet and you can find some DIY solutions that can produce similar results. Although you shouldn’t expect anywhere near the bounty of an outdoor garden, trying your hand at an indoor garden can be a fun diversion in the dark, cold months of winter.
- Force bulbs. If flowers are what you crave, forcing bulbs is fairly easy. Try narcissus, hyacinth, daffodils – even tulips. Some bulbs can be planted outdoors while others, like narcissus, often are spent by the time their indoor bloom period ends.
- Start your seedlings. If you plan on having a garden this spring, starting seeds indoors is not only rewarding, it can also save you lots of money. Plus, it’s a great way to try out some heirloom varieties that aren’t available as plants. An inexpensive heating mat can get seeds off to a good start, but you can also have success in small pots (try repurposing washed yogurt cups) covered with plastic bags to create a mini-greenhouse effect. Invest in a good quality potting medium designed for vegetables, many of which can be heavy feeders.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, bringing a little edible green into your life during winter can do a lot to raise spirits and add a little indoor cheer. Do some research, find a sunny spot, and take the first steps toward what could become a lifelong hobby.