Thursday, December 29, 2011

7 Ways Vegetable Gardeners Can Beat the Winter Blues

This is the time of year when those of us in the Northern hemisphere become envious of those in the southern part of the world. They are in full vegetable gardening mode, growing great tasting fruits, vegetables and herbs, from seeds and potted plants. But rest assure, even though old man winter is biting us in the a, er um, I mean rear, there is still plenty of things we vegetable gardeners can do to get us to where we start planting our indoor seeds. Here are seven that I have chosen as some of my favorites.

Organize Your Vegetable Seeds
As the owner of the Seeds of the Month Club, this one is a no-brainer for me. I have to keep our company’s seeds well organized all year round. But for many of our Seeds Club customers, and those that have purchased seeds through catalogues and online, now is a great time to organize those seeds. I find what works best for me, is to organize the seeds by variety first, i.e. tomatoes with tomatoes, cucumbers with cucumbers, etc., then organize them by date. Members of our vegetable gardening page on Facebook, take it a step further and organize by companion planting, rotations and so much more.

The weather outside might be frightful but the delightful comforts of your home is a perfect setting to research and read up on vegetable gardening topics that can enhance your skills. Want to learn more about composting? Pick up a good book on the topic and learn as much as you can. A favorite of mine that I read, is Chris McLaughlin’s book The Complete Idiot`s Guide to Composting. Chris’ book keeps composting simple yet introduces you to variety of composting styles and techniques.

Maybe you are already a compost expert and want to learn more about specific vegetable gardening techniques, tips and tricks. There are books for that as well. A search on will yield you plenty to choose from.

Plan the Garden
My garden plans will change more than the weather before I finalize it and start actually planting, but now would be a great time to at least put down on paper a list of vegetables you would like to grow from seed this year. A garden plan is a great way to organize your space and thoughts. As a side note I always recommend adding at least one new item to the garden that has not been tried before. I believe it keeps vegetable gardening, fun, exciting and challenging. Hopefully it will for you as well.

Soil Sample
As as long as you can still dig up your soil, now would be a perfect time to take a soil sample. Sure, it may fluctuate based on certain weather conditions but you will have a basic idea of what is in your soil, what it needs and so on. A low cost soil test kit can be found online for anywhere from $3.00 (US) up through $21.00 (US). However, if you are lucky enough to have a co-op in your area, for a small fee, you can take them some of your soil and they will run the tests for you.

Gardening Mentor
Whether you are talking to a neighbor about getting them to start a vegetable garden or you need some helpful advice yourself, the winter is a perfect time to talk about vegetable gardening. If you are a vegetable gardening enthusiast like me be sure to strike up a conversation about it with a friend or loved one who may not have a garden at all and convince them it is worth the time and effort. If everyone you know already has a garden but you had some issues last season, talk to someone in your area to see if they experienced the same thing and if they did, what did they do to fix it.

Up to this point everything has been about what you can do indoors that requires absolutely no growing or getting your hands dirty (for the most part). Is there any gardening you can do? Yes, as you will see below.

Cold Frame Gardening
Not too long ago I wrote an entire article on vegetable gardening with a cold frame. I was fortunate enough to get some professional input from the author of How to Build Your Own Greenhouse, Roger Marhsall. Roger was nice enough to share photos of his own cold frames and give us some great advice as to which vegetables you can grow. A cold frame protects vegetables from the elements and is an excellent way to do some home gardening in the colder months. You can read that article, here.

Window Sill
This one is an oldy but a goody and one of my favorites. I have been successful in the past growing such things as basil (pretty much any herb), spinach, and lettuce on my window sill. I choose a spot that receives sunlight first thing in the morning. Even if you grow only 1 or 2 items this way, it at least scratches that vegetable gardening itch you might have.

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the Seeds Club.

Watch the video below to learn more about Mike`s Seeds of the Month Club:

No comments:

Post a Comment