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Beat cold with indoor garden

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Like it or not winter is rolling in on us and Mother Nature is doing her best to get us used to it.
Cold nights, with a low of 19 so far at the farm, and 50-degree days help our bodies adjust to the upcoming change. It’s like having continuous nudges that winter is on its way. Still, how many had to scramble to find their ice scrapper the other day?
It seems like no matter how prepared we think we are, some things fall through the cracks.  Well, I got a full on slap in the face reminder the other day.  The doors on my truck were frozen shut.  I know better.
Since I live out in the boonies, with no garage, I am usually careful about winterizing my old truck.  I check the fluids and tire pressure.  I oil the doors and locks, usually. This year, I forgot the doors and locks. Duh.
It’s an easy and inexpensive fix. You can use WD40 or cooking oil spray on the rubber lining your doors. I like to do it two or three times over the course of the winter. I also spray some graphite lubricant into the door lock keyholes. Both will keep you from getting frozen out of your vehicle.
This is also a good time to clean or replace your windshield wipers. I use white vinegar to clean the windows and the wipers. It helps keep the frost down. Some folks have tried RainX on their windows to handle the ice. Supposedly, all you have to do is tap on the ice with your fist and it all cracks off. Jot yourself a note to take care of your vehicle now before winter really gets here.
The cold weather makes me yearn for the summer and mornings in the garden. I really miss watching things grow.
So, I play indoors and you can, too.  All you need are some pots filled with potting soil and seeds. You’ve got lights and heat.
The most important thing to have are pots that are deep. You can grow several things in pots ranging from flowers to food. If you just want a little color, besides poinsettias, plant some petunias, morning glories, impatiens, marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies or violas.  You just need about 8 inches of soil depth.
Herbs, like cilantro, parsley and chives are easy to grow in standard size pots. You can even do strawberries, though you had to have already saved a cutting and brought it indoors. Shallow rooted vegetables are fun.

Different crops need different spaces, so maybe you’ll have a line up of pots in a warm, sunny location indoors. Radish, spinach and arugula will grow from seed in soil 6 inches deep. Lettuce, chard and kale need 6-8 inches of depth and 8 inches of space for each seed. Baby beets (Spinel Little Ball, Red Ace Hybrid or Burpee Golden) will grow from seed in pots 6-12 inches deep.  Bush variety snap beans need 8-10 inches of depth.
A little trick to remember is to cover the newly planted containers with clear plastic wrap to create your own mini greenhouse. Keep the soil warm and moist for seed germination. Once the sprouts appear, take off the plastic. The plants like about 10 hours of light to grow.
Now, it’s almost Thanksgiving and I would like to take this time to thank you all for being such faithful readers. Your comments are always helpful. I also appreciate it when you step up to assist with some cause that I’ve mentioned. I’d especially like to thank you for the donations of dog food for the Humane Society last week. We really needed it.
Don’t forget the giant rummage sale this Saturday at the American Legion Hall. There might even be some gardening items there and you can get a little exercise walking up and down the rows of tables.  The homeless puppies and kitties of Anderson County send you all a big, goofy smile of thanks.  Happy growing!

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.