Tips for winter growing from Pinelands Garden Club

Dettinger: ‘A touch of green does wonders for your soul’

While at home during the pandemic, the Pinelands Garden Club is focused on growth.

“You don’t need equalizers or anti-depression pills when you work in your garden,” said member Mary Dettinger.

The club maintains gardens and plants across the region, including the planters on Medford’s Main Street and the butterfly garden at Still Park. While winter causes most plants to go dormant, members like Dettinger are finding happiness through indoor gardens.

“It’s good for your health,” she noted. “The plants give us fresh air to breathe and it’s wonderful. It makes me smile. I always feel very cool and collected when I’m working with my plants.”

Dettinger hosts her favorite plants, like geraniums, inside during the colder months, and she has begun experimenting with succulents. She also cultivates orchids, African violets and others.

She has a three-season room heated to provide peak temperatures for her plants, but there are easier ways for beginner gardeners to reap the benefits of planting inside.

“Surprisingly, there is much we can do in the winter months,” Dettinger added.  “For those longing to be in their gardens, planning changes, adding new features, perusing seed catalogs, reading, dreaming and journaling are all wonderful ways to garden in the winter.”

She recommends cultivating an indoor herb garden. With some seeds, jars and soil, beginner gardeners can grow their own spices for cold-weather favorite foods like soups and stews.

“Mason jars or similar jars are wonderful vessels for that herb garden to fit on your kitchen window sill or shelf,” Dettinger said. “A touch of green does wonders for the soul.”

For the farm to table chef, growing indoor microgreens like arugula and pea shoots and sprouts like radish and sunflowers can provide fresh ingredients.

“All of these are wonderful in salads and sandwiches and are packed with wonderful nutrients,” Dettinger noted.

Need some more time to think about it?

“The planning time is now,” Dettinger said.She recommends inspiring books like “And I Shall Have Some Peace There,” by Margaret Roach, and “Growing Under Cover,” by Niki Jabbour.

Along with guest speakers, the Pinelands Garden Club performs community service, such as teaching arrangement and gardening classes at Medford Care Center, an assisted living facility. New members can sign up at pinelandsgardenclub.org.

When Dettinger moved to Medford from the Midwest, she didn’t know how to handle the sandy soil. The club helped her grow as a gardener and as a person.

“I joined the garden club because I am a social person. I needed social activity,” Dettinger acknowledged. “These ladies are very friendly and welcoming. I never felt quite as well from the first day I attended a meeting.”