Right about now, gardeners all over the northern hemisphere are getting the itch to go outside and get dirty. Yet, in those areas where there is still at least two feet of snow on the ground (Winnipeg, for example), even finding the dirt can be a tad difficult. Much less, playing in it.
So, how do we scratch that itch? Most seeds won’t even think about germinating until, at least, March.
This is what I do. I start propagating plants that I have wintering over in the house. Every year since I moved here to be with my husband, Darren, we’ve added plants to our gardening repertoire that we can include in this process come February. To date, I have some perennial chrysanthemums, African violets, and various house plants. At this point, I also start adding fresh herbs to my grocery list. I use what I need for recipes and then I stick the rest in water to see what roots. This week it was basil, next week, perhaps some thyme.
I’ll give you a peek into what my “playing in the dirt” activities looked like today.
I started with my violets. Throughout the year, they enjoy sitting on our north-facing, kitchen window. I received my first one as a “just because” surprise from Darren, one day a couple of years ago. I grew a second one from leaves from this first one last winter. So, this will be my third.
Under certain conditions, African violets can get quite bushy. The pot can become overstuffed with leaves.
It, therefore, makes sense to give the plant some breathing room by taking the largest leaves from around the rim of the pot, pinching them off gently at the base of the leaf stalk…
…and transplanting them to make a brand new plant. I find that putting the transplanted leaves into a smaller pot, to start, promotes healthy root formation. Especially, when you tuck them in by gently pressing the soil in around the base of each leaf planting. They like to be snug.
Give it some water and all done! Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy!! This new, little one will join the others in our bright kitchen window. African violets do take a bit longer than other plants to show new signs of growth. In our Winnipeg climate, I’ve observed that ours take about 3-4 months (with proper watering and care) before they start sending out new leaves. Meanwhile, the older violets begin to flower and all is right with the world.
Thanks so much for reading and feel free to share how you scratch your gardening itch at this time of year, in the comments section. Check out The Winter Gardening Itch – Part Two where I propagate some fresh spring onions for use in new Springtime recipes.