For many, planting and maintaining a garden is an enjoyable and fulfilling hobby. But when winter comes and everyone retreats indoors, all too often your gardening efforts will have to be put on hold or discarded entirely until the spring arrives and allows you to start anew. This doesn’t need to be the case, however. Even amidst the cold and snow of the Massachusetts winter, there are still ways to keep a garden alive and vibrant.
While the spring and summer months are always going to be the ideal times for planting a garden of plants or produce, just because the weather doesn’t want to cooperate with you doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy and maintain a garden. With these simple tips and techniques, you can design a garden that improves your indoor and outdoor living space for all twelve months of the year, regardless of the season.
Start an Indoor Garden
The most straightforward way to keep your gardening hobby alive and well year-round is to make use of an indoor garden. Plants don’t need to take up an excessive amount of space, and depending on the plants you use, your indoor garden can occupy as little space as a windowsill or as much space as a whole table.
Shelving can also be a good option for plants that don’t grow exceptionally tall. If you do have plants that want to reach for the sky, then setting them down on a non-carpeted floor can be an easy solution as well. The trick is always making sure that your plants have easy access to sunlight. If natural sunlight isn’t an option, then purchasing a sun lamp is an easy and effective alternative.
Indoor gardens can grow just about anything that an outdoor garden can, as long as the plants don’t grow too large. Vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs can all thrive in an indoor garden—especially if the plants are in individual containers—and you’ll even be able to plant seeds or transplant anything from your outdoor garden if need be.
The point is, an indoor garden can be just as vibrant and alive as an outdoor garden. You’ll need to make sure you have the right amount of space and the right tools, such as growing lights. But with these added steps an indoor garden can keep your hobby and plant life going even when the weather outside is cold and frigid.
Choose the Right Plants
The plants you choose for a year-round garden are dependent on whether you plan to keep them outdoors—which may not be an option if you’re in a region with heavy winters, like Massachusetts—if they’re in the ground or in a container, or if they’ll be planted, or transplanted, indoors.
If your plants will be staying outside during the colder seasons, then you’ll need to rely on plants like evergreen hollies, firethorns, and chokeberry bushes, that produce attractive berry displays all winter long. They might not be as colorful as a Spring garden full of fresh flowers, but they can add a lively touch to your outdoor space and hardscapes that helps counteract the starkness of a New England winter.
For indoor gardens—or greenhouses, if you have the budget and commitment for those—you can plant just about anything you have space and light for. If you’re interested in flowers that will last all year long, then you’ll have a variety of options to help keep your garden—whether indoors or outdoors—a lively addition to your everyday life.
Know When to Harvest
Regardless of the kinds of plants or produce you grow in your garden, at some point during the year, you’re going to have to harvest your produce or replace your plants with new ones. The trick is knowing when to let your plants hold their own and when to swap them out.
Once frost begins to set in during the autumnal evenings, most of your plants will either need to be covered and protected, transplanted indoors, or discarded.
In some cases, however, frost can actually provide a benefit—albeit a brief one—to your plants, especially your produce. The colder temperatures not only get rid of any festering insects but can also help preserve your vegetables for longer. Frost almost acts like a naturally-occurring refrigerator in this sense, making it an effective way to keep your food from spoiling prematurely.
Ultimately, gardening doesn’t need to be confined to the spring and summer seasons. If gardening is important to you and you have space and time to commit to maintaining a garden, then creating a year-round garden is not only a realistic option for you but can add a fun boost of color and energy for your home all year long.