Here in New England and across the Northern states, we tend to give up on our gardens as soon as the snow begins to fall. The ground is frozen, the days are shorter, and the weather is fierce!
But as you'll see, you don't have to force your inner gardener to hibernate. Especially in colder areas where our growing season is so short, it really pays to start plants from seed indoors. That way, not only do you save a lot of money on plants at the nursery - although that is a big deal since plants can run anywhere from $5 to $25 a pop or more! You also start the season with sturdy, hardened plants ready to put in the soil as soon as the ground thaws. Starting seeds early also gives you earlier and longer bloom times.
In this video, you'll see me plant some great flowering herb seeds using a Hot House, heat mat, and Grow Light. If you love to plant heirloom seeds like I do, you already know that they have a much lower germination rate, which means not all of the seeds I plant will actually grow into plants. One way to get the most seeds to germinate is to start them in a warm, controlled setting, so in my house with a grow light and heat mat is actually ideal! Just like people, all plants need in these cold winter months is some shelter, warmth, and light- enough to let them grow. That's exactly what we give them when we use a Hot House kit. As you'll see, this system gives me complete control over the temperature of the soil, the amount of light per day, and the proximity of the light to the soil as these plants start to grow.
I'm also going to teach you a little bit about a new plant I'm experimenting with this year called Amaranth. Around here, it's typically used as an ornamental flower, but it's both an herb and a grain! I love to grow edibles, so I'm really excited to have a plant that's both beautiful in the garden and handy in the kitchen! I'm trying out three different types this year: Love Lies Bleeding and Elephant Head, which are both beautiful flowers, and Golden Amaranth, which is the true grain variety. I'm also planting some Cockscomb, which is related to Amaranth, and a gorgeous flower that I've wanted in my garden ever since I saw it at Monticello where President Thomas Jefferson lived. These flowers usually bloom later in the season, so by starting them indoors now, they'll be ready to bloom almost as soon as I get them in the ground. Their blooms last 8 weeks so I'll be able to enjoy them all summer long!
If you've been itching to get back outside but can't wait for the six feet of snow to melt, you definitely want to check out this video and start gardening!