Winter is the season of dull gloomy days when mornings start late and the evenings pull in too soon. This is the time of year when the gardener suffers from cabin fever otherwise known as the winter blues. However there are ways to combat this feeling and Marion Owen in her article on the Plan Tea website has seven great suggestions ranging from seed sprouting to growing a little forest.
It’s winter up North. The sun takes its sweet time getting up in the morning and goes to bed far too early at night. On one particularly gray, snowy afternoon a friend called from southern California.
“The lemons are so sweet right now,” she taunted, “you can eat ’em like oranges!”
That was a low blow. People who move North from places like Florida or Mexico in search of clean air and wide open spaces don’t understand Cabin Fever. Until winter rolls around. Then, all bets are off. It isn’t the ice and snow, because their presence actually brightens things up, or the wind, or even that weird feeling when your nose hairs freeze.
No, it’s the lack of light and green, growing things. The trees have been bare for weeks and the sun scrapes along at treetop level. You linger at magazine ads showing beaches lined with palm trees and you watch reruns of Flipper. It’s the season when nothing grows but dust bunnies or whatever’s inside that odd jar in the back of the fridge.
Folks that live above the 47th parallel understand these things. You’ve started ordering seeds, even though it’s a little early to start them. You’ve trained binoculars toward the garden spots where you planted tulips last fall so you can catch that first, brave shoot. And you’ve taped clippings from seed catalogs on your bathroom mirror to help remind you that there’s life beyond white snow and brown ground. Spring might be a short ways off, but mid-winter can a tough season to wait out.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to bide the time and get out of the Cabin Fever blues. The following garden-related activities have been selected because they require little preparation and accommodate attention spans as short as two minutes. There’s something for everyone, regardless or age or thumb color.
Seven cures for a gardener’s winter blues
1) Remember the alfalfa sprout craze of the 70’s? Well, alfalfa sprouts are back, big time. Since sprouts have recently been heralded as the ultimate health food, their circle of friends has expanded to include broccoli, bean, cabbage, mustard, onion, radish and wheat sprouts. Where to find such things? Go to your local health food store. They’ll carry seeds for sprouting, and sprouting gadgets such as handy perforated lids that fit on canning jars. It couldn’t be easier. Preparation time: 2 minutes. Edible results in 10 to 14 days.
2) If garage sales haven’t yielded a collection of neat, antique bottles, line up a few empty soda or beer bottles. Fill each one with water and plug the opening with a large garlic clove. Within a couple days, roots will begin sprouting. They are more fun to watch than sleeping dogs. Keep the bottles topped off with water. When the green tips reach 4 to 6 inches, snip them off and add them to salads or soups. Preparation time: 1 minute. Waiting time: a few days.