What do you do when you can’t garden?

By Eric Barrett

OSU Ext. educator

What a silly question, eh? You can garden year-round, even though you don’t get your hands dirty outside. And yes, you can have houseplants and even a greenhouse, but that’s another article.

Most of you have already completed the first part of next year’s garden when you planted your spring bulbs. This flush of color in March and April will whet your appetite for the height of the growing season.

So, you spend your time planning.

What you need to be doing now is planning out what new garden space you will work with next year and what problem spots you will want to fix.

What things haven’t worked in the garden? What spots are bare? What is difficult to mow around? Can I make those challenges into new flowerbeds?

Time is almost running short for designing your new beds. Why? Because the new seed catalogs have already begun to arrive this week.

Buying plant material is what most gardeners do more often than seed these days.

You see a full-grown plant in the catalogue and they must have it. You order it and it only works out part of the time. That’s because we forget to read all the details below the picture. Sometimes the plant we receive is the wrong zone, sometimes it grows slower than expected and other times it is shorter or taller than it is pictured.

So make a list of what you like and take some more armchair time this winter to compare what you like with what will do best in the garden.

Also, try starting some new plants from seed. Growing from seed can be rewarding by offering you a less expensive way to fill the garden with the new plants that you fall in love with when you see the picture in the catalogue.

You can start perennials and annuals indoor using a growing medium, a south/east facing window or a grow light, water and some TLC. That’s all it takes.

But the most important step is knowing when to start the seeds. Most plants should not be started until mid-March or even April.

Many of us are getting into pollinators, supporting wildlife and the ecosystem in our own backyard. Thus, be sure to pay attention to whether these new plants are pollinator-friendly. Most catalogues have these details.

Making the plan for the garden is a wonderful winter activity that can help us taste spring just a few months ahead of time.

And when spring comes, we will be ready to go and even extend our enjoyment of the home garden.

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