So far so good with winter this year – just one dose of snow and a few cold days. We are far from out of the woods with winter though however tempting it is to get out there and start gardening. First on my to-do list each year is to clear out and sort all the old seeds from last year. Some seeds are viable for a couple of years but many of mine have spilled out of the packet or are well past their ‘sell-by’ date. Next will be to check the seed starting situation and what I will grow things in. I love the compressed growing pellets that are both convenient and easy to use. One tip I was recently given was to use hand hot water to moisten the pellets and speed up the rehydration. Next on the list is to clean all the growing trays that I want to use. I loved the narrow greenhouse trays that fit easily onto the windowsill. They do need cleaning and disinfecting each year which is messy but worth it. I use a drop of bleach in the soapy water then a good rinse.

Windowsill growing

Compressed pellets for starting seeds

Early in January, I trudged through the snow to a large stand of forsythia that I found near an old home site (now on our property). The stand is large and I clipped about a dozen stems to force inside. They are already blooming and ready to go into a container. Other blooms outside worth forcing are apple tree blossom, lilac and witch hazel which all bloom very early in the year.

Forsythia blooms indoors

Witch hazel

The herb garden in winter generally does well even when it is covered with snow. The biennial parsley stays green under the snow just as it does in the refrigerator – brush the snow off the top, harvest what you need and cover with snow again! The snow helps to protect the plant from the cold winter temperatures.  Mild winters also allow mid-winter harvest of thyme, sage and sometimes mint as well as parsley.  

Midwinter thyme

Berggarten Sage in mid-winter