Tips for a productive winter garden

Your Garden Can Remain Useful and Productive Through the Winter Months

 

Continuing to maintain a garden in winter, and even planning to grow some hardy, cold-weather crops is beneficial to your garden, will help prepare the spot for spring planting, and will provide you with seasonal produce through the cold months! Just because the weather turns cold and your area might experience snowfall that amounts to more than a dusting doesn’t mean your garden has to go dormant. In fact, having a careful plan for the winter months will help ensure your garden is “ready to grow” come spring!

Both vegetable gardens and decorative gardens can thrive through the winter if careful thought is given to what types of items to plant and how to prepare and maintain the plot through the cold and snowy winter months. If the garden areas are mulched with a thick layer of leaves, pine needles, or compost, this will build the soil and protect any seeds or plants in the ground, plus it will help protect any beneficial organisms located in the soil that will help with the upcoming spring’s plantings. If winter plantings are planned, a tunnel shaped structure of arched wire fencing and plastic will ensure that the ice and snow doesn’t kill the plants. Trees that look tasty to winter critters can be protected with a combination of loose stones at the base surrounded by a wire cage. Decorative gardens can continue to provide enjoyment if they contain some hardy winter plantings, such as evergreen hedges, hollies or ornamental grasses.

For those that wish to have a winter crop to add to hearty winter menus, there are many plants that will respond well to growing in colder weather. These include arugula, kale, turnip, rutabaga, radish, swiss chard, spinach, Brussels sprouts and vegetables at the tail end of the fall growing season such as carrots, garlic or onions. Herbs are also good cold-weather crops, and you might find success with rosemary, cilantro, oregano, and thyme. Make sure the spot where you plan to grow your winter items receives at least 3 hours of sun per day, is well-drained, and has plenty of mulch and fertilizer to help protect plantings and provide them with nutrients.

Maintaining and even expecting to grow plants in a winter garden is beneficial to the garden and to your family. Even just preparing the area for spring by covering it with a thick layer of mulch helps future plantings by providing nutrients to the soil, protecting beneficial organisms, and by preventing erosion. A winter garden helps to ensure that your plants, soil and gardening site are in tip-top shape now and in the busy summer growing season.