Even if weather outside is frightful, inside garden can still be delightful - class Apr 10
Story by: Calun Reece
1ST INF. DIV. POST
Blankets of snow may cover the ground this time of year, but fresh leafy greens can still be available for the picking right in one's own home.
"If you've got a south or west window and a large flower pot, you can have a small garden," said David Atchinson, garden manager, Ogden Elementary School.
Some of the items that can be grown indoors during the winter months include: Leaf lettuce, spinach, chard and green onions.
"I've had some success with green onions, so pretty soon you're looking at most of the ingredients for a dinner salad," Atchinson said.
Place the plants in front of a bright south or west window without curtains or blinds, he said. Plants will need about five to six hours of sunlight and need to be placed in a spot that is not too drafty.
"This time of year the days are getting longer about two minutes each day," Atchinson said. "So when the days start getting longer it sends plants the message that it's time to get active again."
Plant lights may be used to help plants grow if additional light is needed, he added. Indoor lights can be handmade or purchased at local hardware stores.
Any containers may be used for the indoor winter garden as long as enough depth is available to allow the plants to grow. A variety of containers in styles and sizes can be used including old buckets, cans and milk jugs. Containers, however, need to have holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain.
Well drained, light soil mix also is needed for the salad garden, said Susan Schoneweis, nutrition health agent, Kansas State University Research and Extension Office at Fort Riley.
Packaged potting soil works well, she added.
Once seeds are planted, water to keep the seeds moist but not too wet, Schoneweis said.
"The nice thing about planting a salad garden is you can start harvesting from the time the seedlings are an inch or two high," she said. "So, if you plant too many seeds and the seedlings are crowded, pull them out and eat them."
As the remaining plants grow, thin and eat them, Schoneweis said.
"Eventually, you'll have just a few plants left at the recommended spacing and you can let them grow to full size, then eat them," she said.
"March will be time to move outside to your garden and start planting directly in the soil," Schoneweis added.
For more information about gardening, participants can download a free Kansas Garden Guide at www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/s51.pdf.
K-State Research and Extension will offer Family gardening classes available from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Feb. 20 and 27, March 6, 13 and 27 and April 10 at Building 7285.
For more information about the upcoming classes, call 785-239-4375.