The 5 Best Ways to Use Your Green Thumb This Winter
Even though the groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter, you don't have to put off your gardening plans any longer.
By Hannah Bruneman The groundhog has spoken. Thanks to a shadow and a legend, we can expect to see six more cold winter weeks. While that gives us more time to put our favorite sweaters to good use, it does put our gardening plans on hold. If you're like us, you've been itching all winter long to dig into the dirt and nurture your garden back to life. Waiting six more weeks just isn't an option for us with green thumbs. That's why we made a list of five things you can do to beat the winter blues... with some greenery! Check out our list below on how you can get your planting started early:
1. Contain heat in a planter Pinterest Plant containers are perfect for outdoor blooms when the warm weather is being a bit stubborn. Let your backyard flourish with containers like these bold pink planters that will pop against the dreary outdoors. Learn more about containers here
2. Find your beach Pinterest When the weather is keeping you down – and indoors – make your own mini paradise to keep your spirits high in the last stretch of winter. Let the kids help make a family terrarium and include rocks, plants, and figurines. It may even inspire them to help in the spring when the real planting starts! Learn more about terrariums here
3. It's not too late for bulbs Pinterest With back-to-school madness in the fall, it's easy for bulb-planting to slip your mind. But, just because you missed planting season before the winter hit, you don't have to miss out on beautiful blooms! Potted bulbs are just as gorgeous and will save you from your own procrastination. Learn more about potted bulbs here
4. Crazy for kokedama Pinterest Have you heard of the kokedama trend? This DIY plant holder is so unique and can be placed just about anywhere. Make a few now to brighten up the indoors and move them outside when the weather starts warming. Learn more about kokedama here 5. From garden to garnish Pinterest If you switch from fresh herbs to store-bought ingredients in the winter, it's time to stop now. Even though it's cold outside, you can still grow fresh oregano, thyme, and more in a windowsill garden. Not only will it enhance your meals, but it will brighten up your kitchen! Learn more about growing herbs indoors here
The best spring and summer gardens start in the winter. Get ready for your best season yet!
Suffering from cabin fever? There's no better cure than spending a winter afternoon browsing the latest crop of seedcatalogs.
Seed catalogs offer a tempting selection of delicious vegetables and gorgeous flowers you can grow in your own backyard. Gardeningfrom seed is an inexpensive and rewarding way to fill your garden.
Here are ten things to keep in mind as you create your spring wish list.
1. Read the Label Before you buy seeds, check the label to see if they require an early start indoors. Cool weather plants, such as pansy and broccoli, need a jumpstart indoors in order for them to grow large enough to be transplanted in the garden in the early spring. Warm-weather crops, such as tomatoes and peppers, also need to be started under grow-lights so they're ready to go into the garden after frost danger passes. A grow-light can be as simple as a fluorescent shop light hung just inches over your seed trays. Learn how to read plant tags.
2. Buy ExtraFast-growing vegetables, such as lettuce, radish, spinach and beans, can be planted several times throughout the spring and summer. Be sure to buy enough seeds for a continuous harvest. Get our guide to succession planting.
3. Be SelectiveIf you're shopping for vegetable seeds, buy only what your family will eat. Don't take up valuable garden space with crops you won't use. Instead, buy only your favorites and try expanding your range each season with new varieties.
4. Consider your SpaceIf you have a small garden, don't start space-hogging vegetables, such as sweet corn, pumpkins, or squash. Focus on higher-yielding, more compact vegetables, such as salad greens, tomatoes, beans, and peppers. Find the perfect garden plan.
5. Include FlowersFor quick color, choose fast-growing annual flowers you can grow from seed sown directly in the garden. Cosmos, zinnia, marigold, nasturtium, cleome, morning glory, and sunflower are just a few of the many annual flowers that grow effortlessly from seed. Browse plants with gorgeous cut flowers.
6. Watch the WeatherKeep soil temperatures in mind when you plant seeds outdoors. Seeds sown in cold, wet soil will often rot. Cool-weather plants prefer soil temperatures of 50-65 degrees F. Warm-weather crops prefer to grow in soil between 70-80 degrees F. Also, do not set out warm-weather crops until all frost danger has passed. Check the USDA Zone map for details on your region. Get detailed growing information for your region.
7. Save Excess SeedsStore surplus seeds in an airtight container in a dark, cool location. Many seeds will remain viable for several years stored in this manner. Before planting old seed, do a germination test. Sprinkle a few seeds on a moist paper towel to help them germinate. If less than half of your seeds sprout, buy new seed.
8. Keep Diseases at BayWhen shopping for seeds look for disease-resistant varieties, especially if you've had problems in your garden previously. For example, when purchasing tomato seeds, look for varieties labeled with a VFN designation after their name. This means the variety is resistant to several types of wilt and nematode damage. Learn about blossom end rot and other common tomato problems.
9. Note Maturity DatesIf you want to grow vegetables, check the "days to harvest" information on the seed pack. Vegetable varieties vary in how long it takes for them to mature. If you live in a northern climate with a short growing season, focus on faster-maturing varieties to insure harvest before frost. In the South, you'll be able to grow plants, such as okra, that require a long season of hot weather.
10. Buy Seeds OnlineThere are many companies that specialize in flower and vegetable seeds -- especially hard-to-find and unusual varieties. Shop your favorite seeds!