As we exit autumn and head into the winter months it can be a perfect opportunity to get rid of dead plants, vegetation, organically rejuvenate your soil, and prepare for the spring. Garden connoisseurs use the winter months to their best ability, by planning the garden for spring and reviving their natural soil nutrients which may have been harmed in the previous months.
In this article, we will discuss a selection of tips when it comes to preparing your gardens plants, weeds, crops, soil and garden tools for winter.
Your garden may seem derelict during these times, but there is plenty to do leading up to and during the winter months.
A fresh garden is a fresh mind, right? Removing and recycling rotten and old plants is the first thing you should prepare before heading into winter. Rotten plants are a frenzy for disease, fungus and pests.
Removing this will ensure that your soil will restore properly and increase the growth of plants throughout the next year. However, it’s also important to recycle your old plants that aren’t needed anymore. This is because they hold great nutrient value to your soil.
Now is the time to start planting your bulbs for them to blossom during the spring. Bulbs such as daffodils or tulips must be planted during the end of autumn/early winter to ensure that they bloom in the spring. Daffodils or tulips require a long period of cold temperatures to encourage the biochemical process which causes them to flower.
Winter weeds normally start their lifecycle late summer and hacking them at the end of autumn is an ideal time to do it. Cutting this lifecycle short will allow the soil to get rich nutrients without having to worry about the weeds taking it.
It should also be controlled throughout winter as a preventative measure so you can ensure full growth to your plants in early spring.
You can benefit from weeding as they’ll be less competition for water and nutrients from which your more important plants profit from. It can also increase the chances of photosynthesis, weeds can cover your plants from sunlight which is another important nutrient for your plants to grow.
Most gardeners say “a garden is just like the animal kingdom” and it really comes down to the “survival of the fittest”. For each plant species, there is a constant battle between who gets better nutrients such as water, sunlight and carbon dioxide which are all needed for plants to grow big and healthy. The fewer weeds in your garden, the higher chance your plants get these benefits.
Just like with plants, you should clear any unwanted or dead crops from your vegetable patches before heading into winter. Leaving them there is like inviting pests and slugs into your garden and can be catastrophic if not cleared or monitored correctly.
If you allow these pests to happily feast during the winter, they’ll certainly have time to breed and expand for the spring and will be pests all year round. Save yourself the stress and prepare your crop/vegetable garden before you run into this mess, your future self will be happy with you.
As you can’t grow much during the winter months apart from some onions and garlic it’s the perfect time to start renovating your vegetable patch. I would first start with the vegetable beds, see if your wood is rotting, bending, or splitting and fix/replace it to make it strong and generally more visually pleasing.
You could also plan your vegetable patch for the coming years, planning and rotating your plants is important not just for growth but to keep the soil healthy with balanced nutrition from the mix of vegetable species.
A common rotation will look something like this –
- Year one – Leaf (lettuce, kale, spinach)
- Year two – Legume (Green beans, cowpeas, lentils)
- Year three – Fruit (Summer squash, cucumbers)
- Year Four – Root (Carrots, onions, potatoes)
They don’t need to be in an order like this. But an annual rotating of crops/vegetables will decrease the chances of diseases in the crops and severely drop the chances of pesticides attaching themselves to them. It also improves the soil’s health, reintroducing new vegetables yearly can increase the soil’s biomass from the different crops root structures.
If you have soil that will be sitting vacant during the winter months, now is the perfect time to rejuvenates its natural nutrients. As the leaves start to fall you could use them for mulching, this will ensure that your soil is protected from being waterlogged and can also work as natural compost.
It’ll decrease the chances of your soil quickly freezing and becoming overly wet, gardeners also say that using mulch in winter will provide you with better results in the spring.
Different types of mulch
- Shredding bark
- Pine chips
- Cedar Bark
Each option of mulch works similarly but they all share their unique benefit. People prefer to use leaves as it’s a more common natural resource and mostly everyone has access to them one way or another.
5. Garden tools and accessories
Heading into winter is the perfect time to resharpen or clean your tools for the coming months. As you’ll be using them a lot less until spring arrives, you couldn’t ask for a better time to get these in tip-top shape.
Cleaning your tools is vital in keeping them in good condition. Leaf sap can quickly build up on your blades which can reduce the efficiency in them massively, as the blades and mechanisms will get clogged up.
Sharpening is even more important, have you ever tried pruning a rose with blunt secateurs? It’s an awful experience and I really don’t recommend it to anyone.
Save yourself the stress and sharpen them to within an inch of their lives. You can sharpen your tools with a bench grinder if you have one available or with a whetstone. If you’re using a bench grinder, make sure you have the appropriate grinding jigs to hold your tools in place.