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Monday, February 17, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In the Garden: Keeping your green thumb fertilized through the winter

This garden bench inside Manito Park’s Gaiser Conservatory is ready for any gardeners needing to be surrounded by plants this time of year. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)
This garden bench inside Manito Park’s Gaiser Conservatory is ready for any gardeners needing to be surrounded by plants this time of year. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)

It’s a good thing the holidays are coming because they distract gardeners from missing their favorite outdoor activity. But if holiday preparations aren’t enough, there are plenty of ways to get your garden fix this time of year.

Start by surrounding yourself with plants in Manito Park’s Gaiser Conservatory. It is filled with tropical and subtropical plants and seasonal displays. The conservatory is closed Wednesdays but open the rest of the week from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Mark your calendar for the Friends of Manito Holiday Lights display in Gaiser Conservatory, where thousands of lights create a festive atmosphere. This annual event, which runs from Dec. 13-22, is free and certain to lift your spirits. Find more information at thefriendsofmanito.org.

Why not adopt a houseplant or succulent from a local business? Possible sources that are open this time of year include the Plant Farm, Ritter’s Garden & Gift, Northwest Seed & Pet, Judy’s Enchanted Garden and Parrish & Grove. Just remember to keep your purchases warm while bringing them home.

I enjoy growing amaryllis bulbs indoors because they bloom during the winter. They are easy to grow and make great gifts. Look for them in greenhouses, home centers, online and even in grocery stores. It’s a thrill watching large, strap-like leaves and massive flower stalks emerge from the bulbs, and the flowers are breathtaking.

Curling up with a good gardening book is a great way to cure the off-season blues. What’s on my coffee table right now? “The Lifelong Gardener” by Toni Gattone, “Deer-Resistant Design” by Karen Chapman, “A Way to Garden” by Margaret Roach and “No Dig Organic Home & Garden” by Charles Dowding.

While I don’t necessarily mean to encourage binge-watching, there are plenty of inspirational and helpful videos to get us through the time of year when outdoor gardening isn’t an option. The popular PBS program “Growing a Greener World” is currently in its 10th season. You can watch all of the episodes by going to growingagreenerworld.com.

Another website I enjoy spending time on is Gardeners’ World (gardenersworld.com), which is based in the U.K. You’ll find growing information, DIY projects, plant profiles and gardening advice. This is the online presence of Gardeners’ World magazine, which is a favorite of mine. They can be difficult to find locally, although I occasionally spot issues at large bookstores.

I’m envious of British gardeners because they also can watch the weekly TV program “Gardener’s World.” Due to copyright enforcement, episodes are no longer available on YouTube. To get my fix of these marvelous programs, I subscribe to Britbox (britbox.com/us).

If you really miss playing in the dirt, why not grow microgreens indoors? This involves densely sowing seeds in flats and harvesting the young seedlings as salad greens. Research has shown each little plant has more nutrients than the full-grown version.

To grow them, you’ll need a seedling flat or other container with drainage holes, seed-starting mix, a clear lid or plastic bag, seeds and a light source. I use a grow light, but a sunny window is another option.

Because the seeds are sown so closely together, it’s more economical to purchase bulk microgreens seeds from garden centers or online sources such as sproutpeople.org, edenbrothers.com or trueleafmarket.com rather than buying small packets of seeds.

There are so many flavorful types to grow, including peas, arugula, basil, kale and beet greens. Find a detailed video about growing microgreens on my blog at susansinthegarden.com/blog. In the Inland Northwest, we are blessed with four distinct seasons; let’s enjoy every single one.

Contact Susan Mulvihill at susan@susansinthegarden.com.

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