Having a garden can be a huge joy in life, but if you live in an area where winter comes on full blast, it can seriously affect the hard work you have put in.
Garden activities aren’t over with when the growing season ends… you have to know how to garden in the winter too. It also depends on what kind of plants you are growing. For instance there will be a different procedure for how to prepare your flower garden for winter, versus winterizing a vegetable garden.
How to winterize a vegetable garden
When preparing your vegetable garden for winter, you will have to take into consideration that some plants must be treated more carefully for the winter season than others. This is true in particular if they are perennials (they continue to grow from year to year). You’ll want to be give extra attention to plants that were new in the ground this year. We don’t want the plants to freeze and destroy all of our hard work. Plants can sometimes be pushed out of the ground if they aren’t properly protected.
Cut away any dry, dead, or rotten plant material
You want to begin clearing dry and rotting plant material after the first frost. Before you start, we suggest that you make some notes and take some photographs in your garden diary.
Photos are helpful in the seeding process next year. You might believe you will remember where you planted it all, but it’s a way to insure that you have a record to make sure you rotate the crops. It also helps you remember what you really enjoyed and what you did not like in your garden, or perhaps what diseases you did not recognize.
In addition to unattractive aesthetics, old plants can contain pests and pathogens. Healthy vegetation may be added to your compost collection, but anything unhealthy or moldy should be disposed of or burned to avoid the spread of disease.
Harvest before that as much as you can. If you have plenty of green tomatoes still, it’s OK to pick them and let them ripen inside. Don’t just throw those in your pile of compost.
For few weeks after the frost, some crops will still grow and sweeten. These would be root crops such as carrots or leafy greens. Make sure that the unharvested material is removed prior to the ground freezing. This task includes gathering up your rotten tomatoes. If you have been growing tomatoes more than a season, you’ll know that the seeds from your small tomato plants will remain viable and become weeds. You can stop that problem before it starts.
These days we are cautious about disturbing and damaging the soil. If your plants are healthy and have no disease, consider cutting them off at the soil line and leaving their roots in the ground.
How to protect bulbs planted in fall.
If you have planted bulbs, you will want to protect them from the inches of snow and ice that can gather over the months. A simple and easy way to protect them is by covering the garden with evergreen branches to make sure that you protect the soil from too much moisture and cold dry air, which can crack the soil and push the small bulb up out of the ground. The evergreen helps to keep this from happening. If they are flower bulbs, planting them at the right time of year will bring you wonderful buds in the spring.
These are just a few examples of certain ways you could protect or “winterize” your garden before the first frost comes, and before the inches of snow get piled on top. Plants are delicate, and when they are left in frigid temperatures for so long, there is a lot that can happen to them. By preparing the gardens in the correct way, you can ensure that you will see these beautiful plants again in the spring. It may take a bit of time and work at the end of the fall season, but you will not regret doing it.
Lastly, always make sure you know your plants. Find out as much as you can about your plants when purchasing, knowing how much cold or heat any particular plants can tolerate will help you better take care of them. Don’t be afraid to ask the people at your favorite nursery questions about what to expect from a plant during the summers and winters in your area. Asking where to plant and how to care for a plant before you purchase it will save you money and time in the long run. Below are some example found over the internet of how others have protected their plants.
As always, happy planting!