Your Spring Garden for Pennies

Many plants, including those considered annuals in your area, can be over-wintered indoors and used as starts in your spring garden, whether it be in the ground or in containers, or both. You would do best, for reasons of saving space, to take cuttings rather than move a whole plant indoors during winter.

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I like to take my cuttings in late fall and root them and plant them in long rectangular planters ("windowbox" shape). These are then placed in a sunny window, watered as needed, checked occasionally for any pests, and groomed as necessary.

Then, shortly before I put these outdoors to harden off, they get lightly fertilized. When the weather has warmed sufficiently, I move the containers gradually into higher light levels and then transplant my starts into the locations where I want them to grow.

As an example of how well this can work, I took cuttings from a coleus with a large red leaf and rooted them, planted them in a long container and grew them through the winter. I say "grew them" but the truth is they grew tall and spindly (due to lower light levels indoors) and did drop a lot of lower leaves. They did grow and endure in spite of the fact that the coleus is definitely an annual in eastern Tennessee. I now have more pots of coleus than I know what to do with PLUS a vigorous and enormous stand of them in a patch in the ground.

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Many of your plants and shrubs can provide cuttings for wintering indoors. Perhaps friends, relatives and neighbors may also be sources for cuttings. The coming of warmer weather will see you well supplied with starter plants for your garden with minimal expense of some pots and soil, some attention to watering on your part, clean-up of fallen leaves, and a place in a sunny window for a few months. A small price to pay, considering the rewards.

By Margret from Greeneville, TN

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