What to do in the winter...
It’s winter....Why isn’t anyone in the garden?! Ideas to keep you active through the winter season and have your garden better prepared for
the burst of spring:
the burst of spring:
- Get out there! First step is the most challenging for most folks. Dawn your boots, bundle up, bring a snack and some gloves. Head to the garden even if you’re solo. Some of the most important steps to keeping a thriving garden is to make observations year round, make todo lists and visualize what you want your season to look like. Take a look around and notice, does the irrigation need some fixing? Tool shed need organizing? Are there projects that could be done like build a compost area or fix greenhouse plastic? Did the weeds get totally out of control?
- Jot things down that could be done. A great way to let other gardeners know what could use tending is by posting your todo list on a chalk board or white board in the garden. Don’t have one? Time to build one or tack the list up inside your tool shed until you get a board. The best way to transfer messages about events in the garden, updates and other fun info is to create a central station that people will see as they enter the garden or as they pass by. It doesn’t have to be fancy but should be weather resistant.
- Winter rains=WEEDS! Most likely you’ve got grasses and weeds growing like crazy because the rains have finally come. While it’s cold this can be a great time to pull clumps of grasses, mallow and all other sorts of weeds before they set seed and while the temperatures prevent much else from germinating.
- Mulch. After pulling a whole area of weeds and leftover plant matter you’ll want to mulch to prevent more weeds from sprouting, enrich the soil and preserve moisture. You can use grass clippings, straw, wood chips or leaves. I’d suggest a thick layer of leaves, straw or grass clippings. Wood chips tend to tie up nutrients when they get mixed into the soil. Wood chips are best in perennial plant areas where the soil will be disturbed less often.
- Build compost. This is a great time to drag all that plant material from the fall over to the compost pile and gather leaves from the neighborhood. Mix in kitchen scraps and make a big pile. Don’t forget to break down thick stems with a machete or loppers before adding to the pile. Also, water it! Without water the microbes won’t work as much to break down the materials.
- Fix tools. Sharpen pruners, replace the broken shovel or rake handle. Grease joints of tools and remove rust. Make sure tools are inside somewhere to protect from rain. The life of your tools is important and can save you a lot of money.
- Buy Seeds. Farms and gardeners all over the states are buying seeds during the winter so the longer you wait the less selection there will be. Jump on purchasing seeds early especially if you want to try some rare or new varieties that look exciting.
- Prune fruit trees and berries. General rules for pruning is to clip dead limbs, diseased parts or branches that cross. You can find more information online or
- possibly a local workshop to learn more specific ways to train fruit trees. Raspberry and blackberries can be more straightforward. Prune the canes that produced fruit this year because they won’t produce again (they have grayish, peeling bark) and leave the green canes. Thin down to 46 of the biggest, healthiest canes per foot of planting row.
- Rally the troops. It can be somewhat disappointing when you’re the only one out in the garden. So how do you get friends and neighbors out there more than once? Create a sense of ownership by allowing people to use 1 or 2 garden beds if they’re interested. They may want to come to the garden on their own time and enjoy experimenting in their own way instead of attending workdays and workshops. Allow access to the garden when you aren’t around. This may happen by changing the key lock to a combo lock and giving the combo to people who commit to a garden bed.
- Don’t give up. Keeping any size garden has it’s ups and downs. It’s not easy, takes some selfeducation and determination. It sure is satisfying though when you harvest and taste the fresh fruits of your labor. Plus, you always have CCNV staff to support you. Feel free to ask for info or help with your garden projects and we’ll assist as much as we can.