Winter Gardening Tips – Get Your Garden Winter Ready
There are a few garden tips for the winter months that should not be overlooked. These tips are not just for your garden, they also include your lawn and landscaping, garden tools, and your feathered friends. Some of the tips will all depend on where you live and the types of winters you have to endure. If you live in Southern Regions with very mild winters you may not need to bring plants indoors.
For your garden you want to bring indoors all the plants that are tender such as any tropical plants that you have in containers. You can re-pot them if need be and display them in a room that receives sufficient sunlight. You can take clippings from your annuals to start new plants to transplant next spring.
Dig up any of the summer-or fall-blooming bulbs that need to be stored, now go ahead and plant some spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips. Be sure to plant them with the roots down even if they have started to sprout on the top. If you have a perennial border place roughly 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the plants for added protection. You can leave any ornamental grasses intact by not cutting them back; this will impel the birds to come for a visit.
Depending on your location, winterizing roses can be accomplished in different ways. But an excellent rule of thumb is to remove all the foliage that is around the base or on the rose plants; this will keep any foliage diseases from returning next season.
You do want to prune any branches that have signs of infestation or decay and cut off any long stems. Be sure to throw away anything that is diseased; do not throw in your compost pile. A good idea is to spray your roses and the soil that encompasses them with a fungicide; this will protect them through the winter months and help keep any diseases from overwintering.
A healthy layer of topsoil, mulch, or compost placed around the graft union will help protect against the cold. Your compost bin can be winterized with a tarp cover so the process of composting will continue through the winter season. Once in a while soak the compost pile with water, this helps keep it moist. You can also add straw or leaves to the side and top of the pile for added insulation.
You can lengthen the harvesting of some of the cool-season vegetables such as spinach and lettuce by surrounding them with a cold frame. Remove all the healthy vegetable garden waste and add it to your compost pile and throw away waste that is diseased. Turn the soil over by using a garden fork in order to expose any underground pests to the winter temperatures. If you can afford to do so, plant a cover crop because it helps reduce erosion of the soil, it captures nutrients, lowers the amount of weeds, and enhances the soil for next spring.
Winter Indoor Gardening
Winter indoor gardening is for the gardener who enjoys gardening year round especially when the temperature outdoors is too cold. Winter indoor gardening of vegetables is usually done on a smaller scale and the plants generally will need more care than your summer garden outdoors. The soil, fertilization, lighting, and watering are all things that need to be considered when gardening indoors.
During the winter months, maintaining winter indoor plants can be just as rewarding as your outdoor gardening in the spring and summer. Growing vegetables indoors is fun and exciting for you and especially your children when they are able to eat all those delicious vegetables that they helped you maintain.
Winter indoor vegetable gardening is a wonderful idea for those who do have much outdoor space or who want to continue to stay busy and garden during the cold winter months.
If you decide you want to continue to have a vegetable garden during the winter in your house it might be a good idea to buy extra seeds for storage during the spring. In many colder climate zones it might be hard to find those vegetable seeds in the fall and winter. Another thing to plan is what types of vegetables you want to grow indoors.
You may be very limited on space so you want to have smaller sizes. Some vegetables to consider may be cherry tomatoes, leaf lettuce and bush beans. You may also want to try cucumbers, cabbage, bunching onions, small roots carrots, eggplant, and peppers. Indoor vegetables can easily be grown in any size pot or container as long as you make sure there is drainage in the bottom.
After the decision has been made about the crops you wish to grow it is time to begin preparing to plant. Your soil, a soil mix or soil-less mix, is the next item to consider. A soil-less mix should have a soil structure that is capable of retaining moisture and nutrients for the survival of your vegetables. The soil-less mix or pasteurized soil is used to prevent disease and insect problems.
The vegetables that are grown in a soil-less mix, which has no nutrients and is sterile, need to have more fertilizer than the ones that are grown in organic soil. It is best to choose a light soil that promotes good air circulation and drainage around those roots.
A mix that will work well is an equal amount of sand, silica, perlite, and forest mulch. Another good mix is equal parts of native soil, coarse sand, compost or peat moss. Equal parts of vermiculite, perlite, and black peat moss are good for the vegetables that are grown in hanging winter container gardening pots.
Now that you have an indoor garden, watering of the plants needs to be monitored on a daily basis. They are in a confined space with your heater running and they are not getting the humidity that is needed to sustain them for long periods of time without water. You will probably need to water them daily or at least every other day. Just remember that frequent watering will slowly diminish the nutrients in the soil.
A good slow release organic fertilizer will help to replenish the nutrients back to the soil. If you over-water the plants it may cause root rot. Most plants and vegetables should not be watered unless the soil is dry. The water should be tepid or at room temperature. Generally the only downfall to winter indoor plants is the watering. Plants that are grown in containers always need extra care and attention than those that are grown outdoors.
Gardening Care During Winter
Gardening care or winterizing will make a garden look better during the cold months but will make work in the spring a lot easier. It would be a good idea to close down your garden when frost is predicted or when your temperatures begin to drop into the low 40’s or mid 30’s consistently.
In some parts of the country that is usually in late October or November but in the Pacific Southwest that may not happen until late December or January if it happens at all.
Fall is the perfect time to remove any plants you do not want or to move the garden plants you feel are not working or growing well in their present location. Fall is also the time to plant bulbs and any bare-root trees and shrubs. It is also time for dividing your perennials; this maintains the health of the plants and it is an easy way to propagate them for more coverage next season.
If you want to have more fall blooms you may want to plan on adding late flowering plants in the spring, such as aster or Black-eyed Susans. Hydrangea paniculata will provide some color during the fall and you do not have to wait until next spring for planting them. Many of these hardier shrubs such as the hydrangea are quite happy with planting late and use the extra winter to build a bigger and better root system.
You can start the winter clean-up by removing weeds and all the spent annuals from your garden beds. Also remove all the diseased leaves from the shrubs and trees, but do not prune in the fall for it may arouse new growth just when winter is setting in. The non-hardy bulbs such as gladiolus, dahlias, and cannas should be lifted out of the ground, dried out in the sun and then stored in a dry cool place for winter.
Many organic gardeners or farmers use flame weeders as an alternative to using herbicides. They are very effective in a garden, along walkways and pathways, and around your lawn to wither up the weeds. They are also very useful on icy walkways in the winter.
If you have not started doing any composting this would be a good time to consider starting. You can toss most of your cuttings along with the dried leaves into your compost bin which breaks down into nutrient-rich soil for the spring garden.
You do not want to throw any diseased leaves, cuttings or weeds in for composting; this will only multiply the problems and your compost will be riddled with disease and weed seedlings and you do not want that in your garden for next spring.
Some other winter gardening tips are to look at those evergreen plants that make up part of the landscape. Sometimes the wind can dehydrate them so much that they end up in a permanent state of dormancy so these plants also need to be protected. An old method of protection is to hammer in some stakes around the plant and then wrap some burlap around the stakes and place pine boughs or straw to create a windscreen.
Mulching for the winter will protect your plants from drastic temperature drops in the soil, will insulate your plants against the bitter cold, and will also eliminate soil erosion. If you mulch too early in the season it may encourage pests and disease.
It is better if you wait until after you have been hit by the first frost when the ground begins to freeze. Four to Six inches of mulch, such as shredded bark, pine boughs, pine needles, or dried leaves will provide a sufficient layer of protection for your plants. It is also a good idea to water your garden well before the ground freezes. Even if you do get snow winter can be very dry for many shrubs and trees, such as rhododendrons and evergreens.
When to Fertilize your Lawn?
Fall is an excellent time to fertilize your lawn. Rake up all fallen leaves and place them in the compost pile; if you are fortunate to own a mulching lawnmower it will also work. There are a few steps you need to take to winterize a backyard pond that is made of a pre-formed liner of plastic or flexible vinyl.
Cut back the aquatic plants, hardy or tender; bring the tender ones indoors and place in a shallow container that has only a few inches of water and put them near a window that gets plenty of sun. You want to remove the floater plants such as water hyacinth and water lettuce because they probably will not survive over the winter indoors or out.
If your pond has fish and is no deeper than two feet, you will need to bring them indoors for the winter. Gather them up in plastic bags that you have filled with pond water. Place the entire bag into the aquarium and allow the water to become equal before removing the fish and placing into the tank.
If your pond is deep enough you can leave the fish outside during the winter, but you will need to stop feeding them because their metabolism slows down. Be sure to remove all debris from the pond water.
Your garden tools are next in line if you want to keep them for a long period of time. You want to wash off any dried and hardened dirt from any shovels and hoes. Rub on a little linseed oil to all wooden handles to help prevent them drying out and cracking. Sharpen the blades on the hedge trimmers, shovels, and pruners.
It is a good idea to drain all garden hoses and place in garage or garden shed for the winter. If water is left inside the hoses it will freeze and expand; this causes the lining of the hoses to rupture and leak. Repair or replace any leaky hoses and replace damaged or old fittings and washers.
Last but not least completely rinse out any pesticide sprayers and grass or fertilizer seed spreaders and allow them to dry thoroughly before storing.
Now you can devise a winter retreat for those feathered friends. You want to provide shelter, food and water as part of their essentials. Keep your bird feeders filled all through the winter season. If you’re going on vacation during the holidays, do not want to spend a lot of money on birdseed or have the time to fill the feeders you can grow shrubs and trees that bear fruit that will be naturally tasty to the birds.
If you have any ceramic birdbaths you want to drain and clean them before you bring them indoors. All other birdbaths need to be cleaned and then keep them filled with water.
You want to provide some shelter for the bird with birdhouses. You can even place nest-making materials, such as dried grass, twigs, hair and yarn around the backyard for them to collect. Hopefully I was able to give you some help with these winter garden tips.