I know the days are getting shorter and definitely colder (we just enjoyed the Halloween snowstorm on the East Coast). But that does not mean that that you can hang up the garden shovel and clean off the garden boots and watch football and hockey, or curling if you’re into that kind of thing. The winter is/should be one of your busier gardening times. Especially with these great Winter Gardening Tips we have to offer.
I know some of us have the luxuary/headache of being able to grow year round. Sunny South Florida and balmy California for example. But even us icebergs up North have work to tackle. Here are a few things that can be done to help you prepare for the sweet planting and growing months that will be arriving not long after the chaos of the holidays settle. And, if you’re anything like me, those months seem to come faster and faster every year, meanwhile I have less and less hair. There has to be a connection there somewhere.
For you folks in the warmer south there’s an endless amount of work for you. Mostly because you lucky so and sos have a splendid opportunity to grow year round, especially if you have a greenhouse or even a make-shift hoop house over your garden bed. There are some pretty wonderful cole crops that can be planted now and grown through out the winter, such as lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, and other brassicas plants. You can also plant peas, turnips, onions and so on. Heck, it was in the 30s last night at my house and I still have sugar snap peas fruiting not to mention my garlic is starting to sprout. Some of you can even grow strawberries if you don’t have to worry about frost.
For us more cold-tolerant folks, unless you have a heated greenhouse or hoop house you’re probably done planting your veggies. But like me, perhaps you have a few more to harvest. If they’re annuals get’em dug up and clean you beds out. For the perennials like strawberries its time to mulch them in. Unlike some of us more fortunate creatures, they are not designed with a built in fur sweater vest. That also goes for those frilly flowers bushes like roses that some gardeners are so keen on.
Speaking of flowers there are several great varieties that can go in the ground right now. Flowers like daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths are meant to be planted in the late fall as they over-winter about as well as the Philadelphia Phillies. You know blossom and shine the entire season and then fade away and disappear just when it starts to get chilly.
This is also the best time to prune the dead limbs of the trees and shrubs. Now an extra hard worker may even consider pulling out or renting a chipper to turn these branches into mulch. Others, like myself, are so much more environmentally conscience and just leave them in a pile out of the way. Of course this is so birds and small mammals can hide from Winter somewhere nice and protected. It also doesn’t hurt that with luck some of that pile may decompose fast enough to make the pile lighter.
Speaking of piles of dead plants, late fall and winter is a great time to collect leaves for compost piles or bins. If you haven’t considered composting yet, why not get started now? There is some great composting bin info out there especially here at Home Fixated. Leaves add essential Caron or brown material to your compost and are a cheap and easy way of collecting it. Speaking of compost, it’s also a great time to work the good stuff into your beds to prep them for next year.
Finally, when everything is all said and done, it is absolutely crucial to clean your tools. You don’t want last years shovel to be this years pitch fork because of rust! A good scrub with water and soap followed by drying and a good wipe down with some WD-40 can prevent some serious oxidation. You might also want to sharpen your tools so they’re good to go next time you need them.
Anyway that’s a short list of to-dos that will really make the cold months fly by. Soon enough you’ll be on your way to sprouting seeds indoors, just waiting for the last frost to come. What else do you do in your gardens? Plant cover crops, build temporary hoop houses, open up a case of winter lager? Let us know, down below! Yeah that rhymed, unintentionally of course.