Winter is certainly not the ideal season for Gardening. It’s a natural fact that fall is not great for veggies and herbs. So what to do? Being a Gardener, this is the most common situation we all face every year.
Sometimes doing nothing is ideal to solve some of these. But what to do if some life is still left in the garden. Can you leave it like that, out in the snow? No, Certainly not.
Nature can indeed heal on its own. But if it’s your lovely garden then, it’s always better to give your hand for some extra support. So the final question is how to prepare your garden for cold Winter?
Check out my previous post: 15 Easy to grow Microgreens- Healthy Green Foods
Simply You Have to…
- Act fast, get ready for winter.
- Act Smart, save the most you can. Cost, effort, and time all that’s actually matter.
- Then Wait for Spring. Get ready for a fresh green Gardening Season.
Ok, this is simple. You can follow my way or simply work out something more helpful. Meanwhile, you can give it a try maybe this will also work for you.
Prepare Garden For Cold Winter
OK, to keep it simple, I have categorized all the essential preparation steps into 2 broad categories.
- Common Preparation. It applies to everyone, every type, and every location of gardening.
- Specific Preparation. These are unique steps, specially designed for specific garden types and locations.
I have tried these steps with big farmlands to small backyard gardens. I have a small kitchen garden, a terrace garden, and a quiet small balcony garden. With little effort and knowledge, I have successfully saved many of my plants. So let us start.
Common Preparations for Cold Winter
I already mentioned these steps are essential and common to every situation. So Just follow these with trust and an open mind. You are definitely free to make some tweaks and adjustments according to your situation.
1. Clean the Garden Before Snow Fall
This is the first and most important suggestion. A clean garden is a healthy garden. You have to remove every unwanted item from the soil before it starts snowing. Snow can quickly turn into ice along with debris and can cause damage to the root system. Also, these leftovers can nurture harmful fungus and bacterias.
You should check & remove these…
- Fallen leaves
- Wooden boards
- Dead & infected plants
- Any metal pieces
- Anything other than plant and soil mix
Backyard or lawn gardeners may have to work for hours to clean everything. It is a tiring job but if done correctly, it can save your 1000s next spring. Cleaning not only keeps your garden free from infection but also provide enough room for regular care like fertilization and mulching.
Ideally, I would suggest making a pile of organic waste in any corner of your garden. It is more beneficial than completely removing green organic waste. Keep this pile away from your plants. It can act as a supply for slow-release fertilizer and also host some garden helpers like- ladybugs.
2. Water Regularly, Abundantly & Carefully throughout winter
Watering is a simple yet very important task during winter. You can say that plants need less water in winter then why should we act so seriously.
Somehow it’s true but always remember water is not only required to feed the plants. It is very important to keep the soil moist, soft, and thermal regulated. Water is used to regulate the temperature and also helps in the flow of nutrients during winter.
Check out another interesting topic: Why do Plants need Water? 5 Reason to Know
3. Feed the plants before Snow Fall
Proper Fertilization is an essential part before the first frost. Technically, I advise feeding your plant with a 2:1 ratio mix of Urea and Organic compost. You should water the soil properly after fertilization.
If you don’t want to use chemical fertilizer then any type of compost is enough. One crucial suggestion, try to feed your plant a little heavy with nitrogen-based fertilizer. Slow-release fertilizer also keeps the roots warm. This will help the plants to sustain harsh winter conditions.
4. Remove Any Weed or Unwanted Grass
Weeding helps in preventing the competition for nutrients and water. Grass and other weeds like wild Amaranth can quickly feed on the available nutrients. This can lead to nutrient deficiency, which is not good especially during the winter season.
It is already a difficult time for plants. If some weed grows alongside then the chance of losing your plant is very high.
Moreover removing weeds can ease your task for the next growing season. Always try to uproot the weeds completely, leaving any root node can leave the chance of regrowth. This is why removing unwanted grass is so difficult.
5. Finally Mulching is required to maintain soil temperature & Moisture
Mulching is a very effective way to control the temperature and moisture around the topsoil. Proper mulching can prevent the freezing of soil.
Overall Mulchicg has many advantages like-
- It Reduced weed growth
- Also reduced evaporation and maintain warmth
- prevents ice formation around the root system
- and most important is to control weed growth.
I always prefer organic mulch like rice husk, wood chips, and dry straws. You should always treat these organic much with some contact fungicide to prevent any fungal infection.
Apart from organic mulch, you can also use thermal poly blankets to cover the soil surface. These modern alternatives are really very effective but can cost a little bit more than the previous one. If you are a true nature lover then these biodegradable thermal blankets are the best option for you.
Specific Preparation for Winter Garden
Specifically, these steps are optional yet recommended. Every step in this section has a unique implementation. So keep exploring and adapt these ideas according to your need.
1. Prune Big Perennial Plants Before the snowfall
Slight pruning just before the first snowfall is good for big Perinneal plants. There is 2 important point to remember- First over-pruning at this time is very harmful. Second, Pruning is only suitable for mature perennial plants. Not all plants can survive pruning so be careful.
If you are not comfortable with regular pruning then avoid it. Just pick the dead or infected branches and clean the soil around the root ball. You can also take help from local professionals or fellow gardeners.
2. Keep your Container plants close together
This is an important task for container gardeners. If you have some plants in containers, then collect them under semi-shade. If you don’t have any shade for plants then place them near a wall.
Put weak or delicate plants in the center and the strongest one in the outer circle. Collectively each plant can support others by maintaining temperature and moisture.
3. Provide Proper Wind Barriers for your plants
The cold dry wind is the biggest reason for windburn during the winter season. The best solution to this problem is to provide a wind barrier. You can use a tarp to avoid direct wind and prevent wind chill.
A wind barrier is especially required for terrace gardening and container gardening. Professional lawn managers use mulch as wind barriers. Natural wind barriers like trees, walls, hills, or high rocks can be really very effective to avoid wind chill, these are not available everywhere.
Be creative, try using whatever you can, and prevent your plant from wind chill.
4. Dig your Container in the soil to Increase temperature
This is an effective way to prevent your plants especially container-grown plants from cold. Though this not a suitable option for everyone. It requires some open land or garden to dig the containers. It is a time taking task and requires some tools and a lot of effort.
If you are Ok with the requirement and efforts then the only thing required is some small hole to put the containers. The ideal condition is to dig up holes at least half the size of containers. Collectively the soil prevents thermal and moisture loss from the roots.
5. Harvest seeds, Prepare seedlings and wait for Spring
If you have done all your preparation then the final step is to collect seeds. I would advise collecting only the clean, healthy, and mature seeds. Store them in a cool and dry place. Apply some contact fungicide or a pinch of turmeric and cinnamon powder to avoid any infection.
Next, get ready for new seedlings. You can start growing seedlings indoors for the next vegetable season. Fall is the ideal time to prepare for an early spring garden. Though this requires some extra effort but can be fruitful if you act smart.
After all these tasks take a sweet nap. Let the garden sleep till spring. Winter is a hard time for gardeners especially if it snows. But this is the only time when the soil can revitalize on its own. The soil under snow cover can develop and nurture new seedlings yet to grow. The snow creates an isolated safe environment for the scattered seeds. So just wait and watch for new growth.
Special Tips for Cold Region gardeners
Hey, guys if you face heavy snow during winter every year or if you live in the far north then these tips can help you a lot.
Remove Water pipes and Sprinklers before the snow
Heavy snow can damage the water pipes, hoses, and delicate sprinkler systems. So first stop the water supply. Then, remove any water left in the pipes, just blow it out. Then take out all the fittings and connections carefully. You should clean these carefully before storing them.
Cut long extended Tree Branches
Heavy snow can easily break these long extended branches. It is dangerous if any big branch falls over the roof of maybe over you car laden with rock hard ice. So it is better to cut and clean off everything before any unwanted incident happens.
Wait till the last moment before mowing your lawn
Late mowing is helpful to keep turfgrass healthy. This time keep the grass a little bit longer. Long grass will prevent a quick temperature drop. It also prevents the soil from freezing or at least slow down this process.
Expand Your Garden
This is the best time to expand your garden especially if you are prepared for more plants in the next season. I hope you have already cleaned your garden. Therefore, it is just a matter of effort and planning. You can work on new plants or prepare raised beds. Do whatever you like to grow and decorate your garden.
Care for Other Garden Habitats
do you know, you are not the only one to admire your garden? There are many more who actually depend on the life cycle of your entire garden.
Yes, I’m talking about all those creatures that live and depend on the ecosystem of your garden. Birds, Squirrels, Frogs, and many more creatures depend on your garden.
Cold Winter is also hard for them. Caring for your garden and prepare your garden for cold winter cannot be complete without caring for its habitats. So do as much as you can.
- Clean the Birdfeeder, checkout for water supplies for passing by birds.
- If possible feed the birds and others during these hard weather conditions.
I hope my experience will be helpful to you. There is a lot more to add here but I leave those for the next discussion. Please write back if you need any information to prepare your garden for the cold winter.
For more details check out my other post on Gardenbagan. I will be back with another interesting topic till then keep reading keep Gardening.