Seed catalogues have largely fallen out of favor and have been replaced by online shopping.
However you want to shop, ordering flower and vegetable seeds makes a great winter diversion.
Many garden centers will already have some seeds in stock.
It's also a good idea to stock up on items that you use frequently during the growing season. I like to stock up on bamboo stakes, plant ties and fertilizer.
And I'm always on the lookout for a great blue-glazed pot. It's nice to picture it full of lush, colorful flowers.
If you want to get your hands dirty, give some attention to indoor plants. You can take cuttings or prune them for shape.
Check them for insects such as white flies, spider mites or mealy bugs. Use a soapy spray to dispatch these pests, concentrating on the undersides of the leaves or leaf joints.
Mealy bugs resemble bits of white cotton and are often found wedged in plant joints. These sucking insects are difficult to control.
Try a soapy spray, mixing a teaspoon of a pure soap such as Dr. Bronner's Castille Oil Soap, in a quart spray bottle of water. This works well on spider mites, aphids and white flies as well.
If mealy bugs persist, try a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Squishing is another option.
Even if your houseplants are insect free, they may be dusty. If they're small enough, rinse them in the sink or use the shower for larger ones. Now that the days are lengthening, houseplants will also benefit from some fertilizer to encourage new growth. You may also want to propagate some of them.
The spider plant is a good "starter" plant to try to reproduce. Take one of its offshoots and--while still attached to the mother plant--pin it into the soil in a small pot nearby.
Use a bobby pin or bent piece of wire to peg it down. The little nubs at the base of the young plant will quickly root, at which point you can cut the umbilical stem attaching it to the mother plant.
If you have potted bulbs such as tulips and daffodils stored away in the garage or chilly basement that are rooting now, make sure to check them to see if they need water.
I planted mine around Thanksgiving, so they still have at least six weeks to go before I'll bring them out to bloom on my patio.
If you can't resist finding something useful to do outdoors, consider cleaning your birdbath and bird feeder.
You might also have some branches down from winter winds or snow that can be chopped up or shredded.
And, of course, there's that search for the first emerging crocus and tulip sprouts. I can hardly wait.
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