Winter months can be the busiest time for gardeners
After a long spring and summer of planting, pruning, watering, and general maintenance, I find that the winter months are the most restful months. But it gives us time to plan for the next growing season. Winters, where we live can be long and cold, there isn’t much happening outside in the garden.
So what’s a gardener to do in the long cold winter months? Here are some ideas for us to do until we can start getting our hands dirty again this spring.
First on the list of what gardeners can do in the winter time is take care of your tools. All of your garden tools need to be clean, lubricated and sharpened. Use a good quality metal file to sharpen all those garden tools. Tools that need sharpening each year include Pruning Shears, saws, knives and even shovels. Yes shovels, it’s amazing what putting a fresh edge on a shovel will do for your digging next spring. Along with sharpening, any tool that is used to cut or prune plant material should also be disinfected. Many plant diseases are viral or bacterial and can be transferred from one plant to another. You should disinfect these tools by placing them in a (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) for about 30 minutes. This should kill most problems. Keep in mind that bleach is mildly corrosive so once you have disinfected the tools be sure to rinse them and then give all the metal surfaces of the tools a good coat of some type of oil (something like WD-40).
Indoor Seed Starting
Winter is the perfect time to build yourself an indoor seed starting set up. Depending on where you live, some seeds can be started as early as January. A basic seed starting set up can be as simple as a couple of fluorescent shop lights hanging from some kind of support structure.
Starting seeds indoors is really quite simple, most important is that you are able to control the heat and lighting, and with a simple fan to simulate the gentle winds of the early spring day to harden off the seedlings.
Clean and disinfect your seedlings pots
All of the pots and containers that you used to start your seedlings each year get a real workout. They often get used 3 or 4 times during an average season. That can introduce the chance of soil borne diseases or fungi. So it is a good idea to clean up your seedling pots. Again with bleach solution will kill most of the disease problems that might be on your plastic containers. Rinse all your containers first and then let them soak for 30 minutes in the bleach solution. Once they have be disinfected be sure to rinse them really well so that there isn’t any bleach remaining on your containers.
Plan for Next Year’s Garden
Now is the perfect time to get excited for the upcoming spring planting season. Be sure to spend some of that time mapping out next years garden. Remember to plan for crop rotation to help prevent disease and pest problems in your vegetable planting.
Use this time to prepare a list of seeds that you need to buy for this spring’s plantings. It always fun to try different plants, from season to season.
Also a great time to put the finishing touches on your Garden Journal. Go through your journal and make any last notes on how your garden did for the year. What plants grew best? When were your first and last frosts for the year? What were the general weather conditions for the year and how did they affect your garden? Get all of these types of notes down in your Garden Journal now while they are still fresh in your mind.
Check out the garden section of your local library and grab as many books as you can get. The dormant season now is a perfect time to add to your garden knowledge, we never seem to have time to read during the gardening season. You will find over the years of gardening, it is always fascinating what we can learn from year to year.
Always have fun! Every year we can struggle with Mother Natures unusual weather pattern. If it does not work this year try try again.
The winter season is a great time for making permanent and very positive changes to a garden. So when I am asked: "What do you do in the winter?" I smile to myself and think of the list of planting that I will want to do first.