Winter Gardening Projects (To Keep You Sane!)

I do realize that even the mere mention of the word ‘winter’ usually puts most of you off but what if a few indoor projects made the time go faster? Maybe a break from gardening is just what you need. On the other hand, keeping your hands in the dirt may be just the cure for the winter blues!

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Kitchen Windowsill Gardens

What can you grow on your kitchen windowsill? How about a winter culinary herb garden? You can use some herbs that you’ve brought in, start them from seed or pick a few up at the store. Many greenhouses keep a few potted herbs on hand through the winter months. Choose three or four of your favorites and pot them up in a long, narrow planter. Snip herbs as needed for all of your cooking needs.

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Salad with microgreens!

For more edible options, try growing microgreens or sprouts. Fresh green treats to add to soups, salads and sandwiches. Sprouts can be used within days of putting in water and microgreens can usually be harvested in around 10 days. With this relatively short time between planting and harvest, you will be eating fresh greens in no time! Another bonus to sprouting is that it requires no dirt. Try alfalfa, broccoli, radish or a host of many other sproutable greens.

Forcing Bulbs

When it comes to indoor growing, few plants brighten your home as much as forced bulbs. The rich shades of red, white and pink of the amaryllis. The frosty white blooms of paper whites. The heavy scent of vibrant hyacinths. Tulips can take a bit more effort but can be totally worth it. Some of these bulbs can be kept for years and revived annually for winter bloom. Forcing bulbs brings a huge sense of anticipation and sometimes a second blooming!

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Potting up an amaryllis!

Houseplants 

With the low sun of early winter, suddenly I’m reminded that my houseplants are so dusty! Some even have long, wispy webs that reach to the ceiling. Pretty scary if you ask me. Winter is a great time to revitalize tired houseplants. Maybe a dusting is in order. We often put our larger plants in the shower for a quick bath. Just allow them to dry and return them to their spot. How about repotting a few to freshen them up?

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All the materials for our terrarium!

Do you have a large glass container just begging to be transformed into a terrarium? Building a terrarium is a great way to display rocks, plants and woodland treasures in a contained environment. Terrarium assembly is an excellent way to get children excited about gardening.

Arts and Crafts

I’m one of those people that always picks up driftwood and beach glass. There are stashes of it in my shed and in the house. I imagined that I would make some sort of garden mobile out of them. Maybe some snowy day I will get all of these beach finds together to make some sort of masterpiece.

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Hey, that’s me with my unfinished bug hotel!

Many other items can be made for the garden with no artist skills required. Try making plant markers from painted wooden spoons or put together a bee and bug hotel. We probably all have some stuff kicking around that could be used.

Garden Planning

It may seem a bit early for planning your 2018 garden but I feel that it’s never too early. Seed and gardening catalogs will soon be streaming in filled with endless varieties of seeds. Why not sketch out your gardens while they are still fresh in your mind? You will have a jump on the next season. What are you planning for next year?

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A rough sketch of the garden is all you need.

The temps have been up and down here in midcoast Maine. The old freeze and thaw! Since we had such a dry season, it seemed strange to see actual mud this past weekend. I missed putting what few bulbs in that I had. I may slip them in the veggie garden on one of these warm days. How did this happen? I guess we are all just busy! Thanks for dropping by this week and I hope that these winter projects will spark a desire for some I ndoor growing! Feel free to click on the blue links for more info. Have a fantastic week!

Hilary|Everlongardener

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Foraged finds!

 

Easily Grow Windowsill Microgreens

With the snow starting to fly outside, many of us are suddenly spending less time in the garden and way more time indoors.  For those of you who can’t get enough of gardening, why not try growing some nutritious windowsill micro greens this winter season?  No grow lights, no greenhouse, just your windowsill!

Many vegetables are hard to grow inside, but not micro greens!  By using minimal equipment, you can grow a wide array of micro greens on your windowsill.  Very little space or skill is required.  With a harvest time of around ten days for some plants, you can easily be eating your greens again in no time!

Microgreens used on top of a salad.

Micro greens are actually the shoots of certain salad vegetables.  Unlike sprouts, they are grown in soil.  Seeds of kale, lettuce, chard, beets, arugula, spinach and radishes can be used.  This winter, I’m trying sunflower shoots for the first time.  Basil, orach and sorrel are on my list too.  Micro green seed mixtures can be purchased from garden centers, seed companies or from Amazon.  I got some from the Sprout House.  They range from mild to spicy and can compliment Asian, French or Mediterranean cuisines.  If you have left over garden seed, try making up your own mixture.  There are slow and fast growing types.  The Johnny’s seed catalog has a great chart about growth rates.  Just make sure your mixtures accommodate the growth rate.  I did a slow tray and a fast tray.

Add soil to container.

To start growing your own windowsill micro greens, you will need 5 basic things: soil, containers, seeds, water and sun.  Choose a growing mix that you would want to grow food in.  Seeds can be planted in trays or any containers that you may already have.  Lettuce or mushroom containers work very well.  You may want to add drainage holes and a tray under the containers.

Soil is all ready!

After adding soil, sprinkle the seeds over the surface.

Closeup of the seeds!

Cover lightly with more soil.  We used the hand seed sower to mix and distribute the seeds.  This way there were no spills or waste.  Gently water the containers.  Position in a south-facing window.

Tiny seedling pushing through the dirt!

In a few days, you will notice the tiny seedlings emerging from the soil.  Keep moderately moist and turn containers as the plants tend to reach for the sun.

Microgreens ready for cutting!

Micro greens are ready for use when they are between 1/2 to 2″ tall and leaves are formed.  Cut with scissors and wash before use.  They can be used for 5 to 10 days depending on conditions.  Micro greens will usually grow again, so keep them watered for a subsequent harvest!

Striking red chard Microgreens!

Many growers are selling micro greens at local markets and to restaurants.  Use micro greens in addition or in place of salad greens.  Add to green drinks and smoothies or use as a garnish.  They are totally versatile so it’s only limited to your imagination!  Micro greens are packed with high levels of healthy nutrients and contain Vitamin C, E, Beta carotene and more.  Some of them even have protein.  For more growing info, go to my post How to Grow Microgreens in 4 Easy Steps or the book Microgreens by Eric Franks.

Salad with microgreens!

It may be one of the latest trends in home gardening but I think you will find growing windowsill micro greens brings a little of the summer indoors during these colder months.  Let me know if you have any experience growing micro greens.  Leave a comment below if you have any questions or ideas!  I would love to hear from you!  Don’t forget to subscribe for free in the sidebar for weekly gardening inspiration!  Thank you for coming along this week and get growing!

Hilary|Everlongardener

 

How To Grow Microgreens in 4 Easy Steps

You may have had them.  You may have just only heard of them.  You might think they are only served in some restaurant that you can’t afford.  I’m here to tell you my friend, that you can grow microgreens with ease in your own home.  No fancy equipment.  No greenhouse needed.  Just dirt, a container, seeds, water and sun!  Yes, you can grow microgreens in 4 easy steps!

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Although people have been growing microgreens for some time now, it seems the term keeps popping up everywhere.  From something to throw in your smoothie to a side salad to go along with a choice cut of beef, micro greens have become very popular.  There are a few reasons for this: 1. Easy to grow.  2. Harvest time is just ten days or so.  3. Small seedlings contain mega amounts of nutrients.  Have I convinced you yet?

Basic items to grow some microgreens.
Basic items to grow some microgreens.

This is the method that I used.  I saved a few mushroom containers, about two inches high.  Drainage holes didn’t seem to be an issue for such a short growing period but that’s up to you.

Add soil to container.
Add soil to container.

I placed some growing mix in the containers and did a broadcast of seeds covering them lightly with about 1/8″ of soil.  In a recent trip to my local garden center I picked up a packet of micro greens mix.  Just a nice mixture of seeds chosen for color and taste.  You can easily just mix up some seeds from any that you have and it will all work out fine.  Now it seems time to gently water your containers of microgreen seeds.  Keep soil moist but not too wet.  In two days the seeds should be pushing up through the soil.  It’s really quite exciting how quickly these guys come up.  After about ten days or so the greens should be ready to be cut.  Scissors work well.  Don’t feel that you need to cut them all that day.  The harvest can be spread out over a few days.  I actually use one container at a time.

Tiny seedling pushing through the dirt!
Tiny seedling pushing through the dirt!

After cutting the greens I noticed a small amount of grit so I put them in my salad spinner for a bath.  They held up quite well.  I used my smaller spinner because of the smaller holes.  Once dry, you can place them in a plastic bag or airtight container and store in your crisper for quite a while.  Water your containers again, you may get a second or third harvest!

Micro greens ready for cutting!
Micro greens ready for cutting!

There are quite a few types of seeds that work great for this.  In my research I came up with kale, spinach, peas, radish, lettuce, beets and chard to name a few. The mixture that I used had a lot of these in it.  You can even add herbs.  I think that a handpicked mixture might be better but it was fun to see how the packet turned out.

Microgreens used on top of a salad.
Microgreens used on top of a salad.

I’ve read a few articles on the benefits of adding microgreens to your diet and the stats seem pretty impressive.  Unlike sprouts micro greens need soil and sunlight.  They contain up to 4-6 times the nutrients of full grown plants.  They are high in vitamin C, E, Beta carotene and some have protein, all depending on where, when and what type of soil used.  I’d love to hear your feedback and/or experiences with growing microgreens.  Feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.  Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram @everlongardener.  Thanks for reading my gardening blog!

Hilary|Everlongardener