Winter Gardening: 13+ Tips and To-Do’s
For a gardening enthusiast, there’s nothing worse than not getting out into your green space. If you’ve got a green-fingered calling, the winter can put the brakes on your passion and bring down your mood.
Luckily, there are many ways to stay busy in the garden during the winter.
How to Keep Gardening in Winter
Prepare the outdoors
Assuming you have a standard garden without a greenhouse, you’ll need to approach winter as a time for preparation. Your perennials, bulbs and trees must be protected throughout the season – so mulch them or insulate them against the cold and ice.
Raise hardy vegetables
With some know-how and maintenance, you can continue growing hardy vegetables like broccoli, spring cabbages and lettuce – but you’ll need be an experienced gardener to take on this challenge.
Build a cold frame
A cold frame is essentially a raised bed that has an old door or window over the top. They are boxes in which you can grow salad vegetables for months into the cold weather.
Get your building work done
Because growth in the winter is slow, you can instead invest time in the actual physical aspects of your garden. Any new paths, borders or structures you want to build are best done in winter so as to not interrupt your summer growing efforts.
Get seeds started indoors
Use your indoor space to continue cultivating your green fingers by growing seeds indoors. It’s a cheaper alternative to buying seedlings and they can actually grow stronger than factory-raised alternatives.
Fill a container such as a seed propagator or a DIY solution like an egg crate with uncontaminated growing medium. If it doesn’t have holes, punch some in so it can drain. Plant your seeds as the packet dictates, then place the container in a plastic bag. This will help raise the humidity and temperature to fight against the cold. Place them in a sunny spot if needed and then check regularly. Add fertilizer once the seedlings have a few leaves. You can start any cooler season vegetables indoors in winter, such as broccoli, cabbage, celery, leek and more.
Learn more: How to start seeds indoors or for hydroponics
Grow your own herb garden: herbs are easy to grow indoors, so if you’re itching to watch something thrive and your garden isn’t doing well, you can always grow herbs on a windowsill. Try hardy variants like sage or thyme.
Winter Gardening Tasks
In terms of maintenance as the winter rages on, you’ll need to stay on top of the following:
- Clear away fallen leaves and dead branches. These can be added to a compost bin if suitable. See my article on composting in winter and the best composting bins for more info.
- Tidy up your borders. Keep soil maintained.
- Perform lawn maintenance, removing thatch and moss. Aim to improve drainage by using an lawn aerator to prevent your lawn from becoming clogged and soggy. Fertilize it near the end of October to boost immunity to frost.
- Weeds, particularly in mild winters, persist. Get rid of weeds ahead of spring to avoid battling them when the weather improves.
- If you have any fruit trees in your garden, winter is the time to prune them – although you should avoid touching stoned fruit trees, which can suffer silver leaf infections if pruned in the coldest months.
Things to Prepare For in Winter
There are two main threats to deal with in the winter, which are:
The coldest weather can choke your plants to death and ruin your soil, so cover any bare plants with a blanket if possible, or bring them indoors.
You can also water plants before a freeze to stop them desiccating. Sprouts can be covered with an inverted bucket.
The winter doesn’t dissuade pests, despite lower numbers, so be on the lookout. You can deal with grubs by tilling your soil so that it exposes grubs to the frost. Installing bird feeders in the winter will keep them on your side and in your garden, ready to fend off insects.
However, you’ll need to fit fruit cages on any tasty treats still growing in your garden. You should also spray branches with a fish or oil based spray to kill fruit pests.
You’ll also need to prepare for next year, so take to early planting for bulbs like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, which should be planted early to allow their roots to grow.
As you can tell, there’s plenty to be done in a garden throughout the winter.
First, decide on your goals – do you want a tidier space next year, or one built to produce more food?
Then, it’s time to get out there!
Don’t forget to wrap yourself up warm…we wouldn’t want those green fingers getting frost-bite!