Gardening blues be gone
November 21, 2018
When Colorado coldness creeps in, the missing simple pleasures of digging in the dirt, admiring green textures in the yard, and watching buds turning to blooms can lead to an unfulfilled longing. Bringing home houseplants and cut flowers doesn’t always offer the same satisfaction that gardening can. Here are some easy indoor ideas to satiate those green thumb blues.
Wheatgrass – This is like transporting a wee bit of your lawn inside, but you won’t have to mow it. You can just enjoy the fresh bright greenness. Choosing a glass container makes it especially fun, but you can use any creative vessel you’d like. Fill it only half way with lightweight potting soil, spread a solid, but thin layer of wheatgrass seeds (available on Amazon) on top and cover them with a quarter-inch of dirt. Water the seeds gently the first time so they don’t get disturbed.
Place the container in a warm spot and stand back. Be prepared for rapid-fire sprouting. Within two days wheatgrass seeds let loose and send out roots into the soil. In a week, it can be several inches high. The beautiful thing about a glass container is you can watch it all happen, even the sparkling water droplets that sit atop of each blade of grass and eventually ascend to the top of the container. It needs very little water, just consistent moisture. The added benefit is that you can cut back clumps and toss them into a smoothie for a healthy boost of vitamins and minerals.
Terrariums – Miniaturize your garden for the winter by making a tiny greenhouse that requires next to no maintenance. Direct or indirect light works well for these little worlds unto themselves. Start with a fish bowl, plastic bottle or any clear container that allows you enough room to get the plants inside and to use tools (a spoon or tongs work well). Choose a theme of slow growing, dwarf versions of plants - either succulents, air plants, or tropical plants such as ferns.
Prepare the container with planting materials appropriate to your plant selection’s needs. Using layers of decorative rock, charcoal, and dirt will add visual interest, but always begin with rocks at the bottom so excess water has a place to settle. Be sure there is a tad more depth of material to accommodate the roots of each plant as they come out of their original containers.
The moisture recycling environment of a terrarium means very little water is necessary – perhaps once a week. Sprinkle in some sea glass, seashells or special rocks for extra charm. Fairy gardens are a variation of this concept, using moss and bonsais, with the addition of little figurines.
Narcissus bulbs – You don’t even need dirt for this project. Just select a bowl at least an inch or two deep, add a layer of skipping-size rocks, then nestle in narcissus bulbs leaving the top third of the bulbs above the rocks, and add enough water to just touch the bottom of the bulbs. No special lighting is needed.
In less than a week the bulbs will throw up green shoots. Within two weeks, they’ll be tall and wispy and starting to form a cocoon of buds that will eventually burst out with white flowers and an intoxicating scent. Some people dislike the intensity of the aroma and there are varieties that are more restrained. As the plants grow taller and get top heavy, insert a few chopsticks into the rocks and tie twine around them and the plants to keep them upright.
Indoor herbs – Chives, basil, mint, and other herbs are easily grown indoors from seed. Your sunniest windowsills or under a grow light are the best spots for heat-seeking herbs. Because they have different water requirements, they’ll thrive best in individual pots. Be sure the container provides good drainage, and once the seeds sprout, let the container dry out a bit between waterings. Constantly soggy soil will quickly kill plants. Keep the plants back from the window if you can feel cold air coming through.
Regularly pinch off leaves (and add them to your culinary creations) to be sure the plants stay full and don’t get leggy. The convenience, scent, and taste of fresh herbs at your fingertips in the kitchen will become a habit you may want to continue year round.