Don't have room or time to deal with an indoor garden? Sick of gardening this year? Try a different approach- harvest your plants for other uses or get a head start on next year with these ideas.
Hang it Up!
There are some annuals that don't mind being dry and dormant during the winter. Geraniums are one kind of plant that can be hung, roots up, in a cool, dry place for the entire winter. Just pull up the entire plant and hang it upside down. This works best in a basement that is not damp, or an attached garage that does not get so cold that it would kill the plant. In the late spring, you can coax these plants back to life with good soil, water, and sunshine. I learned that trick from my husband's grandmother, a life-long gardener.
I love drying and freezing herbs to use in cooking and crafts. There are so many fun things you can do with them, including making them for gifts! Try making herbal vinegars, butters, wreaths, and seasoning mixes with them. We'll be running an entire article soon on gifts you can make from the garden. As you cut back and clean out your garden, hang bunches of herbs and flowers for cooking and decorating, and toss the rest on the compost pile. My chocolate mint goes crazy and must be cut back, so I hang the rest to dry. It goes into my hot chocolate during the wintertime and my iced tea in the summer (when it's fresh).
Flowers can be dried and used in arrangements, wreaths, potpourri, sachets, and more. Rose petals are great in the bath tub or made into rose petal beads and strung as a necklace. Tansy and lamb's ears make a beautiful and simple wreath. Hydrangeas, celosia, yarrow, baby's breath, rose buds, and cornflowers also dry well and make gorgeous decorations. Ornamental grasses make beautiful fall arrangements. Lavendar leaves are wonderful in sachets. Dry strawberry, raspberry and mint leaves for hot teas.
You can also save vines from the garden. Grapevines and honeysuckle are the best vines to work with. Grapevines have to be cut back anyhow- so why not use it all? You can shape the vines by wrapping them around nails for an interesting pattern (draw a pattern and then place nails into a sturdy board in that pattern.) You can reshape dried vines simply by soaking them until they are pliable. Bend them into any shape you desire, secure them well and let them dry in that shape. You can eat the grape leaves too- many Middle Eastern recipes call for grape leaves.
Some herbs freeze beautifully. These include chives, thyme and basil. You can whip up some herb butters or pesto and freeze it. Delicious and instant gourmet! I have found that mint does not freeze well, so I always dry it instead (chives freezes well but doesn't dry well, basil freezes and dries well).
Get into pressing flowers for homemade stationary, artwork, and decoupage. You can press them between phone book pages, but sometimes the ink comes off on the flowers. The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn has instructions on how to make a flower press.
Pansies and violets are the absolute best for pressing. Most flat, 2-dimensional flowers will do fine, and so will many types of leaves, especially those from ivy and violets. Don't forget to press some beautiful fall leaves in all of their glorious color. Hot glue many of these to a wreath form for an extremely simple but elegant wreath. Some people like to press roses and carnations as well, but I like to stick to flowers that are supposed to be flat.