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Credit: Jen Olenick

THE WINTER GARDENING ITCH

Chapter I

Right about now, gardeners all over the northern hemisphere are getting the itch to go outside and get dirty. I know I am. Once the frozen earth has thawed enough, it will be safe to start putting our potted plants outside for a few hours at a time. Them and we will enjoy sitting on the stoop feeling the warm sun and air on our faces. But there are still two feet of snow on the ground, in some places. So, finding dirt can be a little difficult, much less playing in it.

ITCHY GREEN THUMBS

Here, closer to the North Pole, most seeds don’t even think about germinating until at least March.  So how do we scratch that itch?

Mounds of snow on a front porch

This is what I do. I start propagating plants that I have wintering over in the house. Plants just itching to multiply. Every year since I moved here to be with Darren, we’ve added plants to our gardening repertoire to include in this process.  To date, I have some perennial chrysanthemums, African violets, geraniums, petunias 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 stick the rest in water to see what roots. This week its basil, next week, perhaps some thyme, until a whole kitchen garden evolves as the world warms up. 

I’ll give you a peek into what my “playing in the dirt” activities look like today.

PROPAGATING

I always start with my violets. Throughout the year, they happily sit on our north-facing, kitchen window. A few years ago, Darren surprised me with one as a “just because”. I grew a second one from its stems. And so on, and so on, and so one… Hahaha

During a period of healthy growth, usually in summer and early autumn, African violets can get quite bushy. The pot can become overstuffed with leaves under all those pretty flowers. I usually let them go through the holiday season until January. When the temperature outside plummets to -50, and the earth is in hibernation. I’m inspired to do the opposite. To bring things back to life and create new ones. 

Pink African Violets in a terra cotta pot

It makes sense to give these little beauties some breathing room, doesn’t it? Taking the largest leaves from around the rim of the pot, pinching them off gently at the base of the leaf stalk…

Winter Gardening

…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. Tuck them in by gently pressing the soil down 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. Due to the nature of our more northern climate, African violets do take a bit longer here than other plants to show new signs of growth. But, with proper care and observation, they’ll start sending out new leaves in about 3-4 months. The older violets begin to flower and all is right with the world.

A propagated african violets in a terra cotta pot

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 – Chapter II where I propagate some fresh spring onions for use in new Springtime recipes.

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