Before you know it, planting season will be here. You’re probably thoughtfully planning out your garden and counting down the days until winter’s end. Yet, the cold season doesn’t have to be colorless or lifeless.
Bring the green indoors! Get a start on your organization, what you’ll be planting and where. While you’re considering what to grow, these useful gardening projects will be a creative outlet to keep your planting thumb green:
1. Self-Watering Indoor Herb Garden
Create a self-watering herb garden inside your home. Herbs like thyme, rosemary and basil — most mints, really — thrive indoors. A small string from the neck of a wine bottle pulls water up from a glass reservoir beneath it, making the planters self-watering.
You’ll cut off the tops of old wine bottles and then turn them over to create a funnel. If you don’t have a glass cutter, score a ring around the bottle, heating it with a candle. Submerge the bottle in cold water quickly. Sanding the edge will give you a smooth surface.
The wine bottle is inverted like a funnel into a larger open-mouthed jar filled nearly halfway with water. A small layer of a mesh screen holds the earth in the wine bottle. The string should go through the earth and through the funnel to touch the water. As the roots adjust to the new system, it may take a few days for it to start working.
2. Soak Sprouted Foods
Sprouting seeds by soaking is great to do in the winter, whether you’re doing it to enjoy sprouted foods or to get a jumpstart on your planting. Some believe that sprouted foods, or “activated foods,” contain an even more powerful punch of nutrients and vitamins, as they’re more easily digested and absorbed into the body.
Most grains, legumes and seeds may be sprouted. Rather than buying from the grocery store, purchase organic seeds meant for sprouting to ensure success. Each will have a different sprouting time. For example, chickpeas should be soaked for 12 hours and will sprout in one to three days. Mustard seeds should be soaked for eight hours and will sprout in two to three days.
Place the seeds in a glass container filled with filtered or purified water — about two to three times more water than seeds. Cover completely and leave in a cool spot to soak. Drain the water through cheese cloth. Rinse and drain every eight hours until you see sprouts. Keep the container at room temperature and out of sunlight, until you see a little tail of a sprout coming out. Dry them in the sun for an hour so the moist sprouts won’t spoil. Store in the fridge for two to three days, if you’re going to eat them.
3. Make Creative, Functional Plant Markers
Everyone has an odd assortment of “junk” laying around, waiting to become something, someday. Get started on an art project and make creative plant markers for your spring garden:
· Hot glue old keyboard keys to spell out “peas” and other vegetables.
· Buy chalkboard spray paint to paint over surfaces and create erasable labels to use every year.
· Use a permanent marker to label old wine corks with herb names and pierce them with old forks decorated with rustic bows.
· Color in cheap wooden serving spoons with markers to doodle images of corn or watermelon.
· Collect forest items to label — decoratively write on pebbles or carve and paint twigs.
4. Plan Your Garden Design for Next Year
This is one of my personal favorite things to do during the winter. There are so many creative and beautiful vegetable garden design ideas out there on the web these days! A few of my favorites to think about and plan on keyhole gardens, hügelkultur and figuring out how to DIY an irrigation system within the design.
5. Make an Edible Ice Wreath Bird Feeder
Making an edible ice wreath feeder is a great pantry-emptier to do with the kids. In your pantry, you’ll likely have extra boxes of brown rice — which is okay for the birds— corn flakes and oatmeal. Add in bird seed, if you have some. Empty and mix your collection of pantry items into a Bundt pan. Fill it until covered with water. Let it freeze outside, after you’ve gotten a good snow.
After the wreath freezes, slip it out by soaking the Bundt pan in a sink of warm water for a minute. Tie the wreath up with a strong rope or ribbon, and let the birds have at it.
Winter doesn’t have to be completely cold and dreary. Bring the green indoors, plan ahead for your planting season and help to feed and house the birds and beneficial bugs.