Winter Gardening

A grapefruit shell, gay as sunshine, makes a good tempo­rary holder for quick kitchen foliage plants. If the grapefruit shell is dipped in paraffine it won't soften up so quickly. Fill it with soil, sand or peatmoss before planting.

Planting pockets carved in a pumpkin shell will convert it into a short-lived but effective "strawberry jar." The pumpkin is hollowed out first, and little half-moon openings about two inches across the top are carved through. It is then filled with soil, and seeds of something quick-growing, like nasturtiums, beans or morning glories, are poked into it through the open­ings. A few seeds should be planted on top. After growth starts give it a high perch somewhere so the vines can dangle. This jar, of course, is doomed to eventual softening, but a paraffine dip or a good coating of plastic spray will lengthen its life a little.

Coconut shells make excellent hanging baskets for any trailing vine. These are quite permanent.

Sponges (natural, not synthetic) can be soaked in water and filled with seeds like grass or clover, to make living green balls. Suspend them, if you like, in a sunny window, or just keep them in a low bowl on a table. The sponge must be kept very moist.

Sphagnum moss balls, often sold as novelties, and contain­ing seeds like petunias, morning glories and calendulas, plus some balanced plant food, are entertaining, although they won't always provide quite the promised "riot" of flowers. You can make these yourself by tying a wad of sphagnum moss into a ball and filling it with your own selection of flower seeds. Soak the seeds first, and keep the ball wet, dunking it in a solution of liquid fertilizer about once a week. Remember, there is no nourishment in the moss.

A whole collection of plants grown in water only could be assembled on one windowsill.

Many house plants, of course, such as all the various ivies, philodendron, wandering Jew, Chinese evergreen, coleus and dumb cane, are traditionally grown this way. Slips from garden balsam (lmpatiens) will root and grow into attractive water plants.

Some of the floating plants sold by aquatic nurseries for pools, like duckweed and water hyacinths, may also be grown in the house in water.

Bulb flowers, grown in pebbles and water, belong in the indoor water garden, too. Paper white narcissus, Chinese lilies, and lily-of-the-valley are commonly grown this way.

Hyacinths grown in water in one of the special hyacinth vases, which hold the bulb out of water but let the roots dangle in it, are particularly attractive.