Sunday, January 19, 2020

Winter Gardening Projects

We are deep into winter with snow and ice outside and temperatures below freezing, but I have enough indoor gardening projects to keep me happy. What makes the activities more fun is that I get to share them with an amazing group of young and young-at-heart people from C.A.R.E.S. This social services program is for recent graduates and adults that have special needs. The goal is to enhance their independence and community participation. A small group, not always the same people, have been helping us in the garden and around the farm on a weekly basis during the growing season for many years.

Here are a few pictures of C.A.R.E.S folk in my gardens in the spring and summer of 2019:

Helping in the garden: trimming beets, planting herbs, filling buckets with mulch to spread around plants.
This year, we decided they should come twice a month during the winter. I'm having fun thinking up activities for them. Thus far they are forcing bulbs, growing herbs, and caring for houseplants.  It is far to cold to work outside, so we putter about the kitchen and dining room.

A messy array of seedlings and houseplants in the dining room
Herbs and amaryllis under a grow light

They sowed lettuce seeds in the mini greenhouse that I placed on a heat pad

Lettuce seedlings

Proudly watering their herbs

We forced paperwhites and amaryllis bulbs to bloom. We are learning together. Some paperwhite bulbs rotted because I didn't make the stones level. This resulted in higher water on one side of the dish. The bulbs that were high enough out of the water  grew and bloomed. A good lesson.

Paperwhites will grow and bloom with just pebbles or stones and water - unless the water level is too high, then they rot.
Half of the paperwhite bulbs bloomed
Paperwhite (Narcissus 'Ariel')

I placed some bulbs on top of glass bottles containing just water:

It is fun to watch the roots grow

The amaryllis were much more successful that the paperwhites. We planted them in potting mix.

The striped, furled petals of Amaryllis ('Popov' ) promising to burst into flower soon

At the end of each session, my wonderful helpers enjoy cookies and lemonade or hot chocolate. Next time they come I think we will make some simple feeders for the birds. I wrote about winter gardening activities in my January article for the Pocono Record newspaper. You can read it HERE.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, dear friends, how do you tend your gardening passion in winter? I welcome more ideas that I can share with my buddies from C.A.R.E.S.

Pamela x

Cookies and lemonade after working hard

PS. This posting was too late for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th, but it's not too late to follow the link to see what is blooming this month around the world. It is Carol's 13th year hosting at May Dreams Gardens. A big 'congratulations' and' thank you,' Carol, for every garden bloggers' favorite meme.

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
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  1. What a wonderful program. It sounds like a win-win for the gardener and those helpers from the group. Good for you!

    1. I enjoy being part of the C.A.R.E.S. program and the participants assure me they love coming to our farm.

  2. How lovely to share your love of gardening in this way, it's always nice to have an extra pair of hands, or three, in the garden.

    1. Often it would be quicker for me to do the work myself, but it is gratifying to see how much pleasure they get out of 'helping.'

  3. Well Pam, I can't think of a better way to help people with special needs.

    1. Gardening is beneficial on so many levels, isn't it, Alistair?

  4. Win-win for everyone! You have some great projects going there, Pam. And it's great to share the gardening joy. :)

    1. I believe gardening is about sharing, Beth. I'm glad to do it.

  5. I enjoyed seeing your summer and winter gardening projects Pam and the sharing of your passion with others. In winter I just keep gazing out the window contemplating spring and walk outside in the garden on the milder days. You had asked about which zone I am in. It is zone 7a. The shot of the Magnolia buds in my Bloom Day post was very close up. They are about 1/4-1/2 inch in length! Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you for clarifying your zone, Lee. I am so envious of your extended gardening year and the types of plants you are able to grow.