Winter where I’m writing from does mean that conventional outdoors gardening is done until spring. However that doesn’t mean you have to put a mitten on that green thumb. There are a few winter gardening traditions that I’ve started in my own life, that allow me to garden year round! Even better, much of them can be done with what you already have around the house!
How about a fresh pineapple in the middle of winter? Well thanks to our global marketplace distribution our fruits and vegetables no longer have seasons. I like to take this a step further by keeping it closer to home…inside my home. The next time you pick a fresh pineapple from the store, make sure the top green part looks happy and healthy. When it comes time to eat your pineapple, keep the top. With your fingers, remove any fleshy fruit still attached from the cap. Then tear off the green leaves from the end that you just cut so that about two inches are bare. Suspend the cleaned portion of the pineapple top in water so the cleaned part is not touching; for example the bottom of the drinking glass. This will allow the starter roots to grow out unobstructed. Replace water daily. Then wait. It shouldn’t take long, a week or so, and you’ll see roots. Wait some more, until the longest root is about 3″ long. Prepare a pot with your preferred soil medium. Place in as much direct sunlight as possible. Then if you’re lucky, harvest fruit and enjoy in as little as three years! My largest pineapple plant is currently about three feet tall, green and happy after three years.
Around our house we eat a lot of avocado. Which means come winter time; I’ve got a lot of avocado pits to nurture. Prepare your avocado however you wish. I wash the pit off in running water, and a bristle brush that we do dishes with. Three toothpicks jabbed into the side later; it is sitting on top of the fridge in a drinking glass. Replace water daily. You’ll know when the roots are coming out because it will likely be one single, quickly growing root directly out the bottom that puts a crack around the entire pit as it exits. You will then quickly begin to get secondary roots. Later the top will split further and out will come the beginning of your avocado tree. When you have this and the longest root is at least 4″ it’s time to pot. Same thing, use whatever soil you prefer. Place pot in the most sunlight you have. If you have other avocado trees for crosspollination, the patients to wait up to six years and a little luck enjoy fresh avocado! My oldest of four trees is three years old. It stands three feet tall, has five branches protruding another foot off of the main trunk and is covered in big, oval, green, waxy leaves.
Now of course those in the professional horticultural industry will be quick to tell you that this won’t work, it won’t fruit, and it won’t be a true “insert fruit or vegetable here.” The point is that many of the fruits and vegetables you purchase in your grocery store were grown on hybrids that likely came from specific species cross pollinated in a controlled greenhouse environment. The seed or pit that you are using to keep your gardening skills sharp through the winter was likely pollinated in the wide open fields of uncontrolled environment. This just means that you won’t know if you’re going to get fruit until you do or don’t and what it is, until you have it. I like that about this. Experimentation! It is a draw towards, not a reason to avoid. Even if you don’t get your experiment to fruit, you had the anticipation over years to enjoy, and the living conversation piece that you created. I’ve had various successes with many other fruits and vegetables so pick your favorite and experiment away.
Keep on planting!