Just because the outdoor growing season is over, there’s no reason to put your garden on the back burner. If your thumb remains perpetually green, there are plenty of ways to satisfy your gardening itch during the off-season.

While you can spend the colder months doing your homework for next year’s garden, it’s also possible to continue the physical part of gardening within the comfort of your home. Improvements to grow lights have made it easier than ever to bring your garden inside.

Indoor grow lights make a perfect gift during the winter for avid gardeners, as they could allow them to brighten up the winter in a way that few other gifts could.

Once known for devouring electricity, grow lights have become more and more efficient, making indoor gardening a more realistic option. For example, SonnyLight LED grow light systems use only 15 watts per unit or about $12 per year. Product developer Leo “Sonny” Hayes noted that plants use only a small portion of the visible light spectrum, enabling him to design a light using only the necessary amount of energy needed for plants to grow.

If you’re wondering what types of things you can do with an indoor garden, here are a few ideas:

• Start your seedlings for next year. Rather than paying for greenhouse seedlings, grow them yourself.

• Plant flowers to brighten up your house. Flowers can add a little extra life to dark winter days. Use them to freshen up your living space or let your children take care of them while they grow before taking them to their rooms for decoration.

• Grow herbs for cooking. If you’re used to cooking with fresh vegetables, one way to liven up your winter meals is to use grow lights for nurturing fresh herbs.

You can even spend the winter with garden-fresh tomatoes grown under these lights, and you can spice up tomato-based pastas with fresh basil and oregano.

• Take care of your exotic plants. Keep orchids and perennials that are accustomed to warmer climates happy by making sure they get enough light indoors when it can’t be provided outside.

Using grow lights during the winter may allow you to experiment with more exotic species in your garden anytime of the year.

• Make rolling plant caddies to keep your plants from sitting directly on your deck, which can cause stains and decay. For a how-to video and step-by-step instructions, visit www.olympic.com.

By tackling some projects during your downtime in the winter, you’ll be able to have your patio looking good in no time once spring rolls around.

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