Jan 06 2013

Gardening withdrawal during the winter

Posted by dale in

By Easy, staff writer and founder
January 6th, 2013

Many of us are avid gardeners. It’s something we cherish and look forward to every year. It’s a hobby in some ways and it’s also a way to grow better tasting produce or fruits than you could ever buy in the store. We know what went into growing it so we know what we’re eating unlike what you buy at the store.Those are not the only reasons we do it. We are drawn to it. We don’t know why or understand, but we know there’s nothing like walking out into the garden, picking a nice red ripe grape tomato and eating it right there in the garden.

So as the cycle goes, we buy our seeds over the winter. have seeds we saved from last year’s harvest or even traded with others. We plant those seeds indoors in time to have small plants ready by the last frost date of spring. Then while the seeds are sprouting and growing, we get out there in the garden, preparing the soil for this year’s crop, hoping it will be a better crop than the year before or hoping we don’t have the heavy rains or the scorching drought of the season before.

Spring finally arrives and the joyous day of last frost date has safely passed. We go out into our prepared garden and plant our seedlings which we have grown from seed or obtained from the local garden center. We water them all in gently but thoroughly after which, we sit back admiring our beautiful new garden and envision how wonderful it will look when summer officially arrives.

Then comes summer. We are pruning, fertilizing, weeding and all the things that make the garden produce as much as it can. A garden we can be proud of. Some us are even fanatics about it, as if we had gardening OCD. We are driven to have the best garden we have ever had. We can’t help ourselves. We are like Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor or Clark W. Griswold when it comes to our gardens. Let’s face it, we don’t want just a good garden, we want the best garden in the whole neighborhood.

Next comes fall harvest time. We’ve done our best to make the most of our back yard soil. We might not have had the best garden in the neighborhood. We might not have had the best garden we ever grew. but we had a garden! We harvest and eat and can and freeze and dehydrate our gardening spoils to use throughout the winter, but in the back of our minds, we know it’s coming to an end. You can feel the withdrawal creeping in, slowly gaining speed. Then the first frost of fall hits. That in itself brings on the full withdrawal. A withdrawal that will last until next year when it’s time to plant those indoor seeds for the next season.

From time to time during the winter, you find yourself standing at the window looking out over what once was your glorious garden of the previous season. It’s bleak and barren with frost or snow covering the raised beds and the trellises. There’s an emptiness that comes over you as you stand there looking at what, just a few months ago, was your own private vegetable oasis. But it’s gone now and you can’t have it back again for what seems like an eternity. All you can do is order your seeds, go through the ones you already have and plan for next season. Until then, there’s nothing left you can do except wait and wait and wait with that emptiness weighing heavily upon your gardening soul. You’re powerless to do otherwise until 6 weeks before last frost when you can once again, put Operation Gardening back into action.

What’s left for you to do other than realize that there’s nothing you can do? Well my friends, you’re not alone. There are many of us out there, maybe even millions, suffering from the same condition as you and I and I’m here to tell you there is something you can do about it. It may not be a full blown gardening withdrawal cure but it will sure lessen the symptoms greatly. If you have an empty corner in your house or a space in your basement or even a heated garage, you can at least do a little something to regain that feeling of gardening bliss, even in the middle of winter.

You see, there is a small but growing army of people, including myself, who have YouTube gardening channels and are discovering, as well as sharing how to lessen the effects what has now come to be known as Winter Gardening Withdrawal. The solution of course, is growing a small amount of vegetables indoors during the winter.  Whether you’re growing in soil or hydroponics, it can be done on a very small scale. It will take the edge off of the withdrawal plus maybe give you some fresh lettuce or tomatoes or both for salads and sandwiches.

You might be saying to yourself, “I don’t know anything about hydroponics!”. Well, to grow something like lettuce or other greens in hydroponics is almost foolproof. If I can do it, anyone can. For lettuce and many other type of greens, the measurements can be just a capful of nutrients in a half a gallon of water. It’s kind of like adding detergent to a washer. There’s not a lot to it.

If you’re suffering from gardening withdrawal, it’s a safe bet you know a little something about gardening. Better yet is if you have grown plants in containers outside. The only difference between that and inside gardening is having enough light to grow the plants. If you’re like me and don’t have many south facing windows, there’s always artificial lighting like compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL’s) or even a shop light like you can buy at home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowes or Menards. You could grow lettuce, carrots, radishes and even small sized tomato plants like Red Robins or Princess Patio tomatoes.

So, if winter is giving you the gardening blues, why not try a little indoor gardening? The lights will grow your plants, help heat your house, the moisture in the containers will add a bit of much needed humidity, and all it will help you fight off your gardening withdrawals during the winter.

The following You Tube video links show different examples of both homemade and commercial indoor hydroponics systems of various types and sizes…

Larry showing us a small indoor homemade hydroponic system growing a single hot pepper plant…
Larry’s update of a small indoor hydroponic pepper setup

Dale Calder of Canada shows starting herbs in an small indoor commercial hydroponics system called an Aerogarden…
Dale Calder growing herbs in an AeroGarden

Brock of Canada showing us his homemade indoor hydroponic rail system growing pac choy and lettuce…
Brock’s Indoor Hydroponic Rail System Growing Pac Choy

Bobby showing the easiest hydroponic method for both outdoors and indoors…
mhpgardener – Easy Hydroponics – Anybody Can Do This

Jihadacadien of Canada showing us his indoor lettuce garden in soil during a blizzard…
Jihadacadien’s indoor lettuce garden