Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter Gardening

There's nothing like greenery around you in the dead of winter.  Just because it's cold outside, doesn't mean the plants stop growing!  

During the summer I attempt to grow a few things outside in pots, such as tomatoes, basil, peppers, and other herbs.  Back when I lived in Michigan I had a GLORIOUS garden with zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, peas, pumpkins and green peppers.  My basil used to grow insanely well and get about waist high.  I unfortunately do not have "land" to grow things in here in Chicago, because I live in an apartment, so I try to make due with pots.  It's definitely not ideal, but it's better than nothing.  Usually I am successful with this stuff, aside from this past season when my tomatoes were infested and devoured by tomato worms.  I discovered this too late to do anything for my poor tomatoes.  There's always next summer...

HOWEVER, I started two pots of basil last summer that officially do not want to die.  Usually the basil will  start to look shabby and lose all it's leaves by the end of fall and beginning of winter, and then you start fresh next year.  But, when I brought my plants in at the end of last summer, I procrastinated cleaning out the pots and left the basil be.  Lo and behold!  THE BASIL REFUSES TO DIE:

It keeps growing new leaves and getting bigger again!  Granted, this second coming of basil is definitely not the strong, healthy basil that grows in the summer.  The leaves are a little droopy and it looks kind of sad.  However, I've decided to let it keep going and see what it does.  I really haven't even eaten much of it this winter.

Another thing I've been growing is some Sweet Oats (cat grass) for Oliver.  Have you ever noticed that your house cat likes to eat your plants?  Or that they will gorge on grass when you take them outside?  Well, cats have this urge because there may be a nutritional component they are craving/or need.  By supplying this with grass MEANT for cats, your cat will be less inclined to ruin your houseplants.

This type of grass is different from regular grass that grows outside.  These are sweet oats, and it's meant for cats!  Which means:  No throw up!  Well at least in my experience.  I'll let Oliver graze on the grass, and I make sure he doesn't have too much.  To this point, we haven't had any issues with throwing up, as a cat might have from eating regular grass.

And can I tell you?  He LOVES IT.  He's so spoiled.  I keep the grass up in the window by the kitchen sink and Oliver KNOWS it's there.  Whenever I am simply standing by the sink, whether it's washing dishes or doing something else, he'll come up to me and start "MRRROWING" for some cat grass.  I feel good giving it to him, because it's not like cat treats that might make him fat(ter) or something, it's an all natural treat!  See for yourself:

In addition to these plants, Andy and I own a multitude of Jade plants that are scattered throughout the apartment.  These are really easy to keep alive, especially in the winter months.  Jades do not need as much water in the winter, so they only really need to be watered every 2-3 weeks.

I also have some chives that I've been attempting to keep alive.  It's the middle plant above.  I stole this little chive plant from my mom's garden (HI MOM!) and so far it hasn't died.  Even though I really almost killed it numerous times.  (dropped it, repotted it late, forgot to water it, didn't change the soil)  Incidentally the soil at my mom's house is really weird, like clay.  When I water this thing the water runs right through it and hardly stays in the dirt.  It doesn't really work well for a plant in a pot.  I'll have to change the soil in the spring, I don't dare do it now, because then it might REALLY die!

I also have been growing this Thyme plant for about a year from a seed and it's really starting to fill out and  look great!  It really enjoys being in this window, even though it doesn't get much sunlight this time of year:

If you liked this or you have some of your own winter gardening stories, let me know in the comments!  And don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

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