By Jane Gates
Signal Staff Writer
If the weather is too cold, windy, or wet to work outside, it doesn’t mean you can’t still garden comfortably. Here are some quick outdoor gardening tips that you can do indoors.
Start seeds indoors. Fill the seed trays with soil and start the gardening season by starting early with the more delicate, semi-hard vegetables and flowers you want in your garden. It’s not too early to grow some of the semi-hard plants so they’ll be big enough to hit the trail in April.
Take a stroll around the house and check your houseplants for insect pests, dead leaves, cracked pots, or other issues you may not have noticed. Meal bugs, aphids, whitefly and scales are nasty sap-sucking insects that can show up on the delicate growth tips or hide on the underside of indoor plants.
Washing the affected part of the plant with soapy water will help. Or spray with an insecticidal soap like neem or another organic pesticide. For stubborn sap-sucking insects with a natural coating that protects them from these eco-friendly contact insecticides, you need to use a systemic insecticide that is poured into the soil and absorbed by the roots to make the pests drink the poison.
Dandruff and floury insects require this type of treatment. (Keep children and pets away from treated plants and soil!)
Read gardening articles or books to expand your knowledge or catch up on the latest ideas and plant varieties. Aside from my own book (sorry for the shameless self-promotion!), Gardening and landscape books are published all the time. Gardening is a living project, so plants, weather, soil, new tools, materials and ideas are part of this ever-growing industry!
Take local gardening classes, watch videos, and read blog topics that interest you.
Get hold of the gardening magazines and catalogs you wanted to scour for interesting items and some new (or revived heirloom) versions of plants. You know you plan to check them out anyway, right?
Outline plans for your outdoor garden and areas where you want to make changes. Planning things on paper will save you a lot of mistakes. If you prefer to work online, there are some inexpensive design programs available. You can work out your own ideas, meet with a professional to help you, or hire someone to do the work for you.
Repot plants that are tied to the roots. These can be potted plants from inside or outside. When these plants have more space to spread their roots in the spring, they will get a whole new life.
Examine plans and designs for garden projects you plan to build, such as dog houses, trellis, storage sheds, or DIY fire pits. If building is your thing, you should find help making just about any structure you might need for your landscape.
Visit garden centers and locations, or schedule a visit to a local garden show to get ideas for new plants, garden furniture, non-living permeable paving materials, or landscaping.
Start a miniature garden to grow indoors or outdoors. You can plant an entire landscape in a container by using tiny accessories – furniture, houses, rocks, sculptures – creating small waterfalls, and planting with small-leaved plants that grow with a low profile. There are kits you can purchase to get started, or just get creative with small plants from your local garden center and put together materials from a craft store. Or how about you recycle that piece of trash in your garage, shed, or backyard into an artistic bin?
Too many gardens turn into dusty havens for dead weeds or a sea of boring gravel as some gardeners give up on having a reasonably low-maintenance, beautiful landscape with the challenging, changing weather extremes.
But don’t give up! There are plenty of new plants, designs, and materials out there that can creatively counteract change and make the garden the outdoor home you’ve always wanted. Use the rough winter days to find out about all the new possibilities!
Hopefully this list will get you thinking. There is a lot more outdoor gardening work that you can do even if you are locked in from the indoor weather. Some of them can be practical and others can be just plain fun. See how many more ideas you can come up with yourself. Gardening doesn’t just have to be outdoors when the weather is nice
For more information about gardening in the Santa Clarita Valley, visit Jane Gates on YouTube at https://youtube.com/user/Janieg8s.