Avoid winter’s chill with seedlings

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Brrrr! A good time to remember that spring is only 70 days away. Think of it as only 10 Wednesdays! It seems shorter that way. In the meantime, think warm! Watch some summer fun DVDs and steer clear of winter ones, like “Fargo.”
Though I come from some hearty German and Norwegian stock, I love my wood stove! There is no warmer heat, in my humble opinion. Well, OK, corn or pellet stoves put out more BTUs. As an added bonus, the warm wood stove keeps the cat off my lap.
I keep a cast iron kettle on the top that holds only water and scented oil. Forget the plug-ins! This makes the house smell good and puts a little moisture back in the air so I quit shocking the cat. I also make 15-bean soup on top. I even have a cast iron thing for cornbread!
Though most do their baking before Christmas, this is the perfect time to fire up the oven. A slow cooked roast, baked at a low temperature, gives you tender meat and hours of warmth.  Cinnamon buns, cookies and pies work too! They make the house smell really good and always put a smile on your face.
Baked apples are a real treat. Even if you get some with not much flavor, cutting them in half, removing the core and adding a pad of butter with cinnamon sprinkled on top is absolutely delicious.  
If you are craving a little green to grow in the house, don the coveralls and go prune some forsythia. Bring them in the house, place in a vase with water and watch them bloom. Dogwood and honeysuckle will work too!
You should have a basket full of seed catalogs by now. Make a list or just use a black magic marker to circle selections and page numbers as you thumb through them.  Then, add up your bill. If they’re not heirlooms, you’ll be buying them year after year. Saving seeds saves you money.  
I’m about ready to start some seeds inside. I may even break out a germinator. It’s simple to make and use. Just lay out a paper towel, spray it lightly with water, lay out a row of seeds in the middle and then roll it like a cigar.  
Use bread ties to close the top and bottom. Now use a clear cup or glass to hold it upright. Add a little water to the glass. The paper towel acts like a wick to bring the water up and keep the paper towel moist. In a few days, depending on how warm the house has been, unroll it and see if the seeds have sprouted.
Make sure you have your trays of soil ready for plantings. You can also just place your seeds in the tray of soil and lightly water before covering the top of the tray with clear plastic wrap. Place it in a warm, sunny or well-lit location and you’ve just made a mini greenhouse.
Now, since we’re still in the thick of winter, I have a request. I know I can ramble on about anything but I’d love some input from you! So send me an e-mail or call the house. I’m in the book! With all this cold weather, please remember to bring in the pets. It’s free heat and they’re fun to watch. Happy Growing!

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News, and she can be reached via e-mail at paysteen@shelbybb.net.