Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
January, 2001
Regional Report

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Get all your supplies bought, cleaned, and ready to go because you can start seeds now.

Winter Windowsill Gardening

One of the best parts of living on the high desert is the winter sun. We get more sunny winter days than practically anywhere else in the country. And this time of year the sun is low in the sky, so it dips down below the eaves and shines straight through the windows. My houseplants and I go nuts for this winter sun.

Seed Starting

The winter sun is just begging me to start some seeds on the windowsill. This is my seed-starting setup: I dig out those half-full seed packets I threw in the drawer last summer, such as herbs, marigolds, and impatiens. I go to the paint store and buy a wallpaper tray. They cost only about a third as much as "windowsill planters" and fit in every windowsill I've ever had. Then I buy some fresh, sterile potting or seed-starter soil.

Once you're set up, fill the wallpaper tray with fresh, damp soil to within about an inch and a half of the top. Draw rows, about 1/8 inch deep with a sharp pencil. Sprinkle seeds into the miniature furrows and pat down gently. Mist with warm water. Put a piece of waxed paper over the top and set it in a shady, warm place.

Water Bed Sprouter

I place my seeds under our water bed. Tomato seeds really like the warmth of a waterbed compartment. They sprout so fast I have to check them every day or I find tall, spindly sprouts. If you don't have a water bed, the top of the refrigerator will do. As soon as you see that the seeds have sprouted, take them out of their incubator and put them where they get bright light (but not direct sunlight yet) and gently circulating air. Mist as needed to keep the top of the soil damp.

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