North Coast Gardening | Try indoor gardening – Times-Standard

North Coast Gardening |  Try indoor gardening – Times-Standard

December 2023 is starting out wet and wild here on our north coast where the grasses are green, the fall trees are still turning color, and the soil is finally soaked. Whatever the weather, there’s always chores to do in the garden, besides mowing the lawn. Here are some suggestions:

Indoor Garden: If the weather is frustrating, try some fun indoor gardening. Growing broccoli, radish or alfalfa sprouts in a container is a fun, easy and nutritious way to play indoors. If you have a sunny, west- or south-facing window, try a small indoor herb garden. Chives, coriander, thyme, and basil are easy to grow indoors in small containers.

Check Your Trees: Don’t wait for the high winds of winter storms to arrive before checking trees around the house. The limbs and branches of some of them may be weak and vulnerable to breaking or falling during the coming storm. Check for split ends, torn branches, and the like. If you have a large tree next to your home, be sure to have an arborist inspect it to ensure it is safe and healthy.

Wait to Prune: Freezing temperatures a few weeks ago have set back many tender perennials that normally tolerate little frost. Resist the temptation to downsize and clean out. Freeze-burn foliage, although unsightly, will protect roots and shoots at the soil line when future freezes occur. Trim lightly for cleanliness if you must. Otherwise, leave things as they are for a while.

Soak the soil: Now that the winter rains have begun and moistened the dry summer soil, it’s time to mulch. The new blanket will smother the weed seedlings that are starting to grow, and also protect the soil from erosion. Rice straw is useful for vegetables and cut flower beds. Sawdust, shredded bark, and bark chips work well for ornamental landscape beds.

Color your space: Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holidays wear you out. Why not take a trip to your local nursery and check out the winter pants? Primroses, cyclamen, pansies and violas will add cheerful color to containers and beds.

Beware of Slime: It may seem like spring planting is long over, but now is a good time to start checking growing areas for slugs and snails. Spraying organic slug baits now will go a long way in minimizing your losses when it comes time to dispose of your flowers and young vegetables later. Trapping now will also protect spring-planted bulb flowers and the start of fresh winter vegetables.

Terry Kramer is the retired site director of the Humboldt Botanical Garden, a horticulturist, and a trained journalist. She has been writing a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. She currently runs a gardening consulting business. Contact her at 707-834-2661 or

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