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|