Spring is clearly in the air, and I couldn’t be more giddy. The longer days, noticeable warmth of the spring sun, puddles edged in ice crystals, and robins chirping away add a renewed bounce to my step. This time of year, those of us in the Bold North can see the light at the end of winter’s darkness and we have the irrepressible urge to jump ahead to true spring, when the snow is gone and the sidewalks have dried out. (Heck, some of us have already started wearing shorts, for goodness sake!) And gardeners, of course, are anxious to start planting.
Well, here’s a little something to tide you over until those true spring days really do arrive in earnest. Way back in December a box arrived on my doorstep filled with copies of my latest gardening book for kids, Dig In! 12 Easy Gardening Projects Using Kitchen Scraps.
Inside you’ll find a few ideas for getting things growing on your sunny windowsill during the final days of winter (I know, to call these the final days is a stretch, but I’m trying out a little optimism here, so stick with me). Best of all, these projects make use of fruit and vegetable scraps that you might otherwise toss in the compost bin.
Take, for example, the stubby root end of a bunch of romaine lettuce. Have you ever tried sticking that root end in a little water, setting it in a sunny spot, and seeing what it will do? Here’s what I have growing on my living room windowsill right now. This will work with any bunch of lettuce (or celery, or leeks…) that still has a root end. Make sure to keep these stubs watered (just an inch at the base is all you need…and soon you’ll have mini lettuce leaves. Once the leaves get a little larger, trim them off and add your own freshly grown greens to a salad! Leaves will continue to sprout up from the root base as long as you keep watering them. How cool is that?
This is also the perfect time of year to get a head start on growing plants for your garden from seed. One of my favorite projects from Dig In is planting peppers in a newspaper pot. This expands on a project that originally appeared in The Nitty Gritty Gardening Book, making newspaper seed pots. But instead of buying a packet of seeds, I harvested seeds directly from the inside of an organic bell pepper I bought at the grocery store. Sure enough, the pepper seedlings eventually produced delicious bell peppers!
Making newspaper seed pots is super easy. Check out this quick video I made (with a little help from Brian Cornell) last summer to demonstrate the process. Now you have no excuse…buy a copy of Dig in!, make a few pots of your own, and get growing!