Winter isn’t the most ideal time to be gardening but that doesn’t mean that you can’t protect your garden from the bitter cold! By following these 7 simple guidelines, you can assure that your garden will be ready for Spring.
1. Plant Cover Crops
Soil is the life of all plants and crops. During cold wet winter seasons, many gardens suffer from soil degradation. Soil degradation is the result of both wind and water, which result in soil erosion and nutrient loss. Both of these problems aren’t good for the livelihood of your future flower or vegetable garden, and can result in a less productive growth season.
Planting cover crops such as clover or legumes in Fall helps reduce soil erosion during cold winters and act as pest control services. Hungarian Grazing Rye is suggested because it can keep weeds under control, and its extensive root system makes it one of the best for soil structure improvement.
2. Backyard Composting
Adding compost to the top of your soil acts similar to cover crops. By combining organic remnants in a large compost bin, all of the nutrients begin to ferment and can be added on top of soil to protect the soil’s nutrients for harsh Winters to come.
3. Eliminate Unnecessary Moisture
Because Winter already brings a lot of moisture to your soil and garden, try to avoid adding more than necessary. Insure that all rain gutters are draining in the right location away from any beds, and rid your yard of potholes or other areas that can collect large amounts of moisture.
4. Stop Fertilizing
Six to eight weeks before the cold winter season, stop fertilizing perennials in order to eliminate new growth. Encouraging new growth during the frost season will weaken or even kill your plants.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Relocate
You yourself do not need to relocate for Winter, but your tender plants might need to. If a greenhouse or conservatory isn’t available to you, fill pot liners with straw and cardboard to provide more insulation and move pots against a sheltered wall.
6. Protect Your Flower Pots
Plants can grow back and be replaced from season to season, but expensive ceramic and terra cotta pots cannot. If your pots are out in the freezing climate, move them indoors for the Winter. If you are insistent upon leaving your pots outdoors, consider fiberglass, metal, stone, or even thick plastic pots that are more resilient.
7. Try not to Worry
Gardening is one of the few joys that can be added to your life. When it comes to preparing for the Winter season, try not to worry too much! If you follow all of these steps, you can rest assured that come springtime, your garden will be ready for planting!
Nina Hiatt has worked helping clients find balance and beauty in their personal space through landscape and interior design. She specializes in helping young designers build their portfolios and start their own business. In 2007 she hosted a group of new designers as they spent a year in Morocco learning about new art forms to incorporate into their landscape design. Outside of work, Nina enjoys using power tools, sewing, and participating in an economic based think- tank.