With the sun shining directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, winter begins in the northern hemisphere. We experience the Winter Solstice and our shortest day of the year. In the southern hemisphere, they are experiencing just the opposite; their first day of summer and their longest day of the year. We swap places in June when our summer and their winter begin.

While the days are long and dark this time of year, gardeners can still keep their thumb a little green with houseplants and winter flowering bulbs like amaryllis and paper whites, but there are a few other things you can grow indoors this time of year that you can start from things you find in your own kitchen.

How about a pineapple? Select a pineapple that has firm, green leaves. To prepare the top, with a firm grip, twist off the leaves. A bit of the core should come along as well. If you cut off the top, remove all the fruit as it will only rot and possibly cause the top to die, too. Carefully, and bit by bit, cut the core until you get to the base of the leaves. Be careful not to cut into the root plate. You will see root buds around the edges of the root plate. At this point, put the leaves aside for several days to dry out and callus over. Next, put the leaves into a glass of water that covers the root plate. Change the water every few days. In about a week, you should see roots beginning to form. Plant this into a good potting soil into about an 8 inch pot. Do not fertilize until the roots have taken hold and are growing well. Then fertilize about every three months. The pineapple should start to fruit when it is about a year old. The flower begins as a bright red cone and takes about six months to mature. We did this many years ago at the extension office in Ada County. The pineapple was delicious!

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If you just snip off the green tips of your scallions, you can put the white bulb into a class of water and the green tops will regrow several times. They are really handy to have on hand to add a bit of quick flavor.

Citrus seeds are fun to plant because they have such good results in germinating. However, not necessarily in growing fruit in our area but they make a gorgeous houseplant. Grapefruit seeds seem to do especially well. Plant the seeds from a healthy, ripe fruit into a good potting soil using a container with good drainage. Keep moist but not soggy as citrus won’t tolerate wet feet. The seeds should germinate in 2-6 weeks at 85 degrees. Some have germinated the seed in a paper towel and planted once the roots are visible.

Grow something in the dark days of winter and I think you’ll find it will bring a little bit of spring into your living room.

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