With a bit of planning and care, you can ensure your garden keeps growing all season long. So, don’t put away the gloves just yet! Follow these handy tips and watch your garden flourish in the winter gloom.
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1. Remember to winter clean
As winter sets in, it’s important to make sure your garden is free of disease. The best way to do this is by clearing away all spent plant material. Remove dead plants, old vegetables, and anything else that could damage the health of your garden. If your garden has support structures, like bean stakes or trellises, remember to clean them to make sure there are no lingering diseases. A solution of water and bleach will do the trick.
Now is also a good time to weed your garden. Weed seeds are the first to germinate in warmer months, so it’s a good idea to pull them up before they have a chance to cause trouble in spring.
2. Choose the right plants
Winter is to some plants what spring is to others. Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peas, and Brussels sprouts actually grow best during cooler months. Root vegetables like turnips, beets, radishes, rutabagas, and baby carrots are other good options. If you’re looking for plants that will make your garden pop, try planting cheery pansies, snapdragons or English daisies. Unless your garden is subject to intense cold snaps, there’s no reason why it can’t be blooming with colourful flowers and delicious produce.
3. Be generous with mulch
A great way to help your garden grow––regardless of the season––is to use mulch as fertilizer. Mulch helps moderate soil temperature, keeping the roots of your plants cool and moist. This is particularly important in winters when your plants might wither in the harsh and windy conditions. Mulch also helps prevent soil erosion. Covering your garden with mulch will help protect it from the impact of raindrops and wind.
You can buy mulch from a store or use your own mix by composting annual plants like vines and climbing plants. While compost is not the same as mulch, it helps lock in your soil’s existing nutrients.
4 Test your soil
To make sure your garden has the best chance of surviving winter, remember to test the pH level of your soil. You can do this with a pH kit or electronic tester. For a vegetable garden, aim for a pH level between 6.3 and 6.9. If you get a reading above 7 - in other words, too alkaline - try adding sphagnum peat moss or elemental sulfur. If it is too acidic, you can try to increase the pH level with lime. By making the necessary adjustments, you will put your garden in good stead for winter.
5. Compost leaves
As winter blows in dead leaves and other debris, take the opportunity to add what you can to a compost bin. Fallen leaves are gardening gold. You can use them to make mulch, compost and leaf mold. This way, you not only clear your garden of troublesome debris, you also stockpile quality fertilizer for the year to come.