December 21st is the first official day of winter. Bring on freezing temperatures, limited daylight, dry skin, and ice everywhere… One thing is for sure, you probably won’t be spending much time in your garden. Although it feels like warm weather will never come, winter is an important time to plan for next year’s garden!  Instead of sitting cooped up inside this winter, prepare yourself for spring. At Growing Hope, our Garden Programs Team is coming up with ways to prep Ypsi gardeners for Spring 2016!

Here are five indoor gardening things to do so you or your tools aren’t rusty once the snow melts:

Garden PlanPlan Your Garden Layout:

Is there a spot that gets more sun or shade? Identify what parts of your outdoor space are ideal for growing. Don’t be afraid to utilize online tools, like Garden Plan Pro, or to sketch out your idea. Growing Hope’s Farm Manager, Sam, recommends graph paper and a pencil with good eraser. Graphing paper is great for arranging and organizing your crops. It also allows you to set the layout according to the space you have available in your yard!

Collect and Order Seeds:Seed Selections

So often gardeners have seeds left over from the past gardening season. That’s ok! You can save these little guys for the spring time, just keep them in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant them. In the meantime, bring out the seed catalogs and make a list of plants you’d like to start in the spring. Winter is a prime time to place these orders, so there’s no delay once the weather warms up. Here are a
few of Growing Hope’s favorite seed companies: Ann Arbor Seed CompanyProject GrowFedco Co-Op, or Baker’s Creek.

You can even find great seed selections at the Ypsilanti District Library’s Seed Library or local stores like The Ypsilanti Food Co-Op and our own YpsiPlanti Garden Supply!

Clean your Supplies and Tools:

Start “Spring Cleaning” early by tuning up your gardening tools and supplies! Have some of your shovels IMG_0170started to rust? Don’t worry, here’s a simple recipe that will take care any corrosive build up:

Mix salt and lemon juice together in a container. Apply to rust using steel wool or other corse sponge. Have a difficult spot that requires extra scrubbing? Just let the tool soak in the lemon/salt mixture a little extra longer– that should take care of it!

Since you’ll be cleaning anyways, this is a perfect time to disinfect any seed starting container, garden planters, and pots! At Growing Hope we use 1 parthousehold bleach and 9 parts water, soak the containers for 10 minutes, rinse them off with water and then let them dry!

Realize that you’re missing essential gardening tools? Look no further than Growing Hope’s Tool Lending Library! The library is located at Growing Hope Center, and available for free to all Growing Gardens Members. We have a wide selection of garden and farm tools available for you to check out! Please visit Growing Hope’s webpage or email Garden Programs Manager, Ana Cristina, for more information!

Garden Movie Series or Book Discussion Group:

While you’re waiting out the winter elements, curl up with a great gardening book or movie. At Growing Hope, we have a wide selection of books that you can check out! Stop in during business hours (Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm) to browse the selection. Looking for a group activity? The Ypsilanti District Library has a gardening discussion series called Garden Chats, and Thrive Ypsi organizes a film series. Check Facebook for the film schedule.

Attend a Gardening Event:

Once the weather starts to mellow out, organizations around Washtenaw County and southeast Michigan host a variety of gardening conferences and expos. These events are exciting opportunities to learn about gardening in our region and to connect with other gardeners around us! Check out this list of upcoming gardening events:

Local Food Summit 2016, Feb. 15, 2016— Each year the Local Food Summit, hosted by Slow Food Huron Valley, brings together individuals to cross-pollinate and jumpstart ideas that will create the strong, healthy food system of the future.

Master Rain Gardener Training Class, Thursday mornings, Feb. 25- March 24, 2016
— Washtenaw County  has been planting rain gardens since 2005, and in that time we have learned a thing or two about what makes them successful. Come train with us to be a Master *Rain* Gardener.  During class you will design your own rain garden step-by-step. Share your knowledge in the tradition of the Master Gardener volunteer program. Become your neighborhood’s expert on rain gardens!

Garden Season Kickoff, March 19, 2016— The Kickoff features a seed swap, garden workshops and activities and lots of resources from community groups offering gardening tips. You’ll also be able to purchase needed gardening supplies from YpsiPlanti, and register to become a Growing Gardens member through Growing Hope! This event is free and open to the public.

The next 90 days might feel drab, but with these simple tips you may be inspired to gear up for springtime! There are many resources available in our community– taking full advantage of all of them is simple! If you’d like to further your garden planning consider visiting Growing Hope’s website for a complete list of friends and colleagues throughout Michigan that can help!