When the growing season draws to a close, it can be a bit dreary to think about not being able to garden for several months. Although outdoor growing might be on the downswing, that doesn’t mean you have to completely give up on gardening until next year. There are plenty of ways to keep the garden passion alive through the frosty weather! So don’t spend the winter months staring longingly at your garden through the window… Grab a cup of hot cocoa and read on for ideas to keep the growing going postseason!
Is the season really over?
Before calling it quits on your garden, consider using some season-extension techniques to keep growing well into winter! You might not be able to keep your heat-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers alive, but lots of veggies such as spinach, kale, and chard are very cold-hardy, especially with some added protection. Keep in mind that plants take significantly longer to grow as the days get shorter and colder, so season extension tends to work best for protecting already-established plants.
Keep on growing with grow lights
While you might be able to grow some veggies and herbs indoors by placing them by a south-facing windowsill, edible plants can struggle to get enough light indoors without the help of grow lights. Compact plants such as lettuce, herbs, green onions, and microgreens are all great options for growing under lights. Plants that tend to grow larger can be grown under lights, but they are more challenging due to the space that’s needed. While grow lights can feel like a big investment, they are also useful for starting seeds indoors so in the long run you can save money by growing your own seedlings for the garden! And if you just don’t feel like messing around with having dirt indoors, you might want to consider a tabletop hydroponic growing system.
Care for your overwintered plants
If you decided to bring any of your plants indoors for the winter, they will need some attention to survive until they can be planted out in the garden again. Often with overwintered plants the goal is to keep them alive in a semi-dormant state, rather than actively growing and producing. Place the plants in an area of your home where they will get indirect light, with a tray under them to catch any water and soil. Water the plants lightly and infrequently- you don’t want the soil to stay bone dry, but you also don’t want it to be totally soaked. Don’t fertilize overwintering plants as it could stimulate an unwanted flush of new growth.
Experiment with ‘exotic’ plants
Winter is a good time to play around with starting plants that typically won’t grow in your climate. Try growing a pineapple from a pineapple top, a mini citrus tree in a pot, or have a go at sprouting an avocado pit! While it might be a struggle to grow these plants to a point where they will ultimately produce a harvest, it can be a fun project to start when the weather is feeling anything but tropical!
Try growing mushrooms with a kit
Since it can be tricky to give plants the light and space they need to grow indoors, you might want to use the winter months to give mushroom growing a go instead. Mushroom growing kits take the guesswork out of growing mushrooms- all you need to do is place them in indirect light and keep the growing medium consistently moist. Although the kits might not produce a fortune in mushrooms, it’s neat to be able to grow something at a time of year when growing edible plants can be a challenge!
Organize your seed collection
Before ordering seeds for next season, take stock of the seeds you already have and organize them for the upcoming season. Plastic boxes with dividers work well for organizing your seeds into categories. Be aware that seeds can start to lose viability over time so you might start to see a decline in germination if they’ve been sitting around for several years. If you’re unsure whether the seed is still viable, try sprouting a few to confirm. To maximize the life of your seeds in storage, keep them in a cool, dry place away from light.
Read a great garden book
Winter is the perfect time to catch-up on garden-related reading! There is so much to be learned from reading gardening books, and your local library likely has a vast selection of books on every gardening topic imaginable. This winter I’m reading: All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew (Planter uses Square Foot Gardening spacing recommendations!), Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell, and The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert E. Gough.
Start planning next year’s garden
It’s never too early to start brainstorming ideas for the next gardening season! Get started with planning next year’s garden in Planter, so you’re ready to order seeds and get a head start on the growing season!
Being trapped indoors doesn’t mean you have to give up on gardening entirely. Look for ways to keep the growing going in spite of the weather, and take advantage of the downtime to start planning for an awesome growing season next year!