Winter gardening ideas
It’s that time of year where there is a lot less going on in the garden, aka winter doldrums. Christmas just ended and the new year is about to begin and I am very much looking forward to a new growing season, but of course I will have to wait a few months. So what are some winter gardening ideas that we can use to keep us from going crazy when we cant spend as much time in our gardens?
I am so excited! I just purchased a seed starting rack with grow lights and heating mats (sold separately). Review to come.
Since I have limited space outside and zero space inside to start seeds for spring and needed something to be able to start my seeds that I can keep temperature controlled and mouse and rat proof as much as possible. These pesky creatures love to dig up your seed, eat it, and leave nasty turds behind.
I do have a small greenhouse, 9’ x 6’ but it is too big to efficiently control the temp with electric heaters. I have tried over the years to do it and have had success with certain plants that are easy to germinate like tomatoes, but have had a hard time with peppers and other veggies.
What else is there to do during this time of year?
It can get very depressing when you can’t get out to work in your garden or flower beds, so I like to use this time of the year to start planning for spring, summer and fall.
This is when you can think about what you want to plant, when you want to plant, and how much you want to plant.
There are very neat guides out there that can will send you an email reminder each month based on the area you live in as to what you should be planting. I receive notices from the Old Farmers Almanac gardening planner.
I don’t always agree with everything they say to plant but they are pretty accurate most of the time and helps to remind me what I should be planting. This is very helpful if you are a little too busy to sit down and make a list of what you want to plant and when. I understand the struggle with time, I have a kids and a full time job.
This is also a great time to get your garden area cleaned up and ready for spring. Usually my garden is a total mess at this time because the holidays just ended and since the freeze has claimed my summer veggies they are lying haphazardly across the garden like it’s a nuclear wasteland. It ain’t pretty right now!
This is also a great time to clean and sharpen any tool you use. It’s best if you sharpen and clean them every time they are used but you know as well as I do that ain’t happening. So when we you are itching for something to do in the garden get your tools out and make sure they are ready for the spring. Sharpen your shovels, hoes, pruners and whatever else you have. Oil the handles if they are wooden, oil the springs on your shears and snips. Whatever maintenance you have this is the best time to do it since you will have more time than normal. If you maintain your tools of course they will last longer, work more efficiently and can be a cool thing to hand down to your children if you have them.
I like to use this time, once I have cleaned my garden to lay compost on the top of my beds. I use a method of gardening called no dig. I plan on writing about this in another blog but it is what it sounds like. You aren’t tilling or turning the soil each year. Instead you let the soil work like it does in nature by adding a new layer of compost on top each year. The benefits are wonderful and the results have been great. This is also a very easy technique for tiny space gardening.
Once my beds are cleaned I will layer them with a one to two inch thick layer of compost and let it sit till spring. I like to do this now instead of right before planting because sometimes the compost being used isn’t broken down all the way and you don’t want to be putting this down with new plants. Reasons are multiple and I will write in detail on this in another blog. The one to two month period of the compost laying on the beds will ensure that it is broken down all the way and that the nutrients are completely available for the plants and that the soil life is alive and well.
I use my own compost that I have been feeding with table scraps and dead garden matter, but I don’t always have enough and still have to buy some from the store sometimes. Be careful though, if you buy from the store that you are getting a high quality compost that isn’t full of pesticides and chemicals.
Make the best of the off season
At this time of year it can get boring and down right depressing with the cold rain and inability to get into the garden. That’s why I like to spend as much time as I can dreaming about the spring and preparing for it so when the time comes I am ready to get seed in the ground and transplants planted. If you spend a little time doing these things you will be prepared also and you won’t be rushing in the spring to get things prepared for planting.
What are some of your winter gardening ideas that help keep you from going crazy in the off season and help get you prepared for the spring? Please share your ideas and routines that you use.