Winter Gardening Tasks

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Now that the busy holiday season is over, it’s time to start thinking about gardening again. Unless you live somewhere warm, you won’t be digging in the gardens any time soon. But there are several things you can do now to start preparing for spring.

Winter garden area

  • Design a new garden space – Now is a great time to start planning next years gardens. Start gathering ideas by searching online or in magazines and books for ideas. You can also start a list of all the plants you want to add to your gardens this year, and start planning where you’ll put them.
  • Plot out your vegetable garden – Take the stress out of planting your vegetable garden by plotting it out ahead of time. Plan to group vegetable plants by family (cabbage, nightshade, etc) to make crop rotation easier. Why stop at the vegetable garden? You can make a similar map for annual and perennial gardens too.
Drawing of plan for vegetable garden
  • Order your seeds – Decide what seeds you’re going to start this year and order them now. Sort through your seeds from previous years and toss out any that are more than 3 years old. Read the instructions on the packets so you can plan when each type of seed should be started indoors; generally it’s 6-8 weeks before last frost.
  • Prepare for starting seeds indoors – Pull your lights and other seed starting equipment out of storage, and make sure everything is in working order. Serialize seed flats and trays to prevent damping off of seedlings. Disinfect them by soaking in one part bleach to 9 parts water solution. Don’t forget to buy your seed starting mix now, before the rush.
Serializing seed flats and trays
  • Start winter sowing – It’s too early to start sowing seeds indoors, but you can start winter sowing as soon as the temperature stays consistently below freezing. Winter sowing is a method of sowing seeds outside during the winter, and it’s easy. It’s a great way to get your hands dirty in the dead of winter, and get a jump on starting your seeds.
Winter sown containers
  • Protect your gardens during snow removal – Garden plants can be sensitive to the chemicals used on roads and sidewalks during the winter. Protect your garden areas by tossing chemical filled snow onto the lawn, not the gardens. Use chemical deicers sparingly, this will help to minimize damage to your lawn and gardens.
  • Get your equipment ready for spring – Beat the rush by having your lawn mower and other equipment serviced or repaired now. This is also a great time to clean, sharpen and organize your garden tools – and wash your gardening gloves. 
Gardening gloves headed to the wash
  • Start a lasagna garden – If you’re planning to add a new garden area this year, start now with a lasagna garden. This is a method used to start a new garden area by layering organic material on top of sod or weeds. If you start it now, it’ll be ready to plant by spring.
  • Do some light garden cleanup – Now is not the time for pruning or digging, but you can do some light garden cleanup during the winter. You can remove dead plant material from the garden beds and pick up leaves that are left over from fall. Toss them into your compost bin, or use them to mulch around perennials.

Winter can be a nice break from the busy gardening season. But if you’re like me, winters tend to drag on forever and make you long for spring. I hope this list has given you some ideas that will keep you busy with gardening tasks this winter, and help it go by faster.

Summer garden area

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Comments

  1. says

    Amy, you have skillfully given readers many choices of things to do for their garden this month, wherever they live. This was a wonderful post.

    I am in the process of reviewing reference materials gathered last season to help me decide which projects I will implement this year.

  2. says

    Thanks for bringing up the idea again of winter sowing. I would like to try that this year. Does it work with your warm weather crops as well such as tomatoes and peppers?

  3. says

    @Debra – Wow, thanks for the great comment! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Good luck with your plans for this year, can't wait to see what you end up doing.

    @Scotkat – Thank you!

    @Billie Jo – Glad I could help motivate you. I hope your winter will go by faster now that you'll be busy with garden tasks! :-)

    @Peggy – I hope you'll give winter

  4. says

    My pile of gloves could definitely stand a trip (or two) into the washer. There is nothing worse than dragging the crunchy gloves out of the garage in Spring. My seed catalogs have begun to arrive but I have to be careful that my dreams do not outgrow my garden space!!
    Thanks for the "To Do" list as it keeps the winter gardening blues away!

  5. says

    @Kirstie – LOL, that is so true!! I'm embarrassed to admit that this is the first time I've ever washed my gardening gloves!! Yuck!

    I always have too many seedlings in the spring, even when I think I haven't sown very many seeds. I hope you have more will power than I do!

    You're welcome, glad you enjoyed the post!

    Amy

  6. says

    Amy, I see you use those plastic square lettuce containers for Wintersowing, I was wondering how those held up? I have been saving mine, but it is way too warm to winter sow, yet!

    • says

      Wowzers, good eye!! Those are actually some of my favorite containers. I'm going on year three with them. The lids are easy to take off and put back on, which is really nice. The only downfall is that they will melt in the dishwasher, so I have to wash these by hand. I only have a few, so it's not a big deal.

      Amy

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