Simple Ways to Shake the Winter Blues

Gardening is one of the best ways to enjoy seasonal change. As everything slows down and goes to sleep for winter, a break from the garden can be a nice change. But before long we crave the colors, fragrances and foliage of the garden. We can't shorten the winter, but we can shake its blues with some easy and inexpensive plant fun. We can even use the stark scene out the window to our advantage with artful placement of indoor plants. Lush and colorful plants look even more appealing juxtaposed against a bleak winter landscape.

Paper whites are the absolute easiest and budget friendly bulbs to force. Emerging stalks from bulbs resting on a simple bed of stone, is almost as pretty as when the clean white blossoms open. Staggering a collection of bulbs (purchased in the fall) several weeks apart will ensure a long period of bloom.

Cheery and colorful begonias are super easy to grow. Some small inexpensive plants I purchased one winter day to dress up my dining table have continued to grow and flower for months several years in a row. Varieties grown for colorful foliage are just as easy. All begonias seem to require is a sunny window, regular water and plant food. Like most houseplants, they benefit from time spent outside during summer and replanting to a larger pot when needed.

Fresh herbs can be readily found in grocery stores these days, but I find it more satisfying to have my own collection of easy-care windowsill herbs such as basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary and bay.

For years I have filled my sunny windowsills with vegetable and annual flower seedlings in late winter. Rather than depend on what is available in garden centers, I can be sure to have the varieties I like best and ones I know will grow well in my garden. But the main reason I do this every year, is to bridge the long winter gap between the gardening seasons.

I recently I added a simple grow light system in my basement, and have discovered that in addition to starting more seedlings, I can grow my own salad greens throughout the winter while my outdoor garden rests.

Experiment yourself with low budget plant fun, and spring will be here before you know it. There are so many possibilities. Try rooting some cuttings from a friend's houseplant, start an avocado plant from a pit, grow an orange tree from a seed, or root a sweet potato in water. Have fun and enjoy the winter!

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