As we look out our windows at a wintry scene, it is hard to imagine that in just a few months all that white will be replaced with green. Gardens need TLC even more so during the colder months. You can take steps now to help your garden withstand the winter weather and get it ready for the warmer days ahead.
These winter activities will give your garden the advantage come springtime so it can bloom to its fullest.
1. WRAP IT UP
Protect your plants against cold weather.
Your holiday presents aren’t the only thing that needs wrapping this season. Group your potted plants together in a sheltered spot to protect them from high winds or heavy rain. Drape a freeze cloth over them or string a set of Christmas lights to keep them warm.
Tips for protecting your plants:
- Remember that covers must reach all the way to the root zone to be the most effective.
- Lift plants off the ground on terracotta feet so any water in the base of the pots can drain away.
- On frigid nights, think about bringing your plants inside but check for spiders and other insects first.
2. MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU
Force your bulbs indoors.
Forcing your bulbs is basically tricking them into blooming out of season indoors. You can recreate nature with favourable conditions in your home. This makes bulbs think that spring has sprung when in fact you just decorated your Christmas tree.
Tips to force your bulbs:
- Nearly any flowering bulb can be forced to bloom early but we recommend trying tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, or crocus.
- Place your bulbs in a cool and dark place. When you see green sprouts emerge and roots start poking out then move the bulbs to a warmer location.
- Check the soil regularly and keep it damp but not wet.
3. IT’S FOR THE BIRDS
Feed your feathered friends.
Birds are a garden’s BFF cause they help with pollination and provide natural pest control. During winter time, many birds’ go-to food sources, like insects and fruit, are hard to find. Create a backyard buffet so the birds can have full stomachs until spring time.
Tips for winter bird feeding:
- Place your bird feeders near a sheltered location, such as hedges, that are protected from severe wind and snow.
- Provide food with a high fat or oil content such as black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, or thistle seed.
- Clear off snow from your feeders so the food is easily reachable. Also shovel the ground below the feeder so spilled food is accessible.
4. READY FOR THE NEXT CHAPTER
Cozy up with a few gardening books.
A cup of tea, a warm blanket, and some gardening books can make for a perfect evening in on a cold winter night. Books on gardening are the right combination of inspiration, information, and entertainment.
These are some of our favourites:
- Dreamscapes: Inspiration and Beauty in Gardens Near and Far
- The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks
- RHS Botany for Gardeners: The Art and Science of Gardening Explained & Explored
- Grow Cook Eat: A Food Lover’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening, Including 50 Recipes, Plus Harvesting and Storage Tips
- Your Well-Being Garden: How to Make Your Garden Good For You
- Canadian Gardener’s Guide 3rd Edition
- Leaf Supply: A Guide to Keeping Happy House Plants
- The Healing Power of Plants: The Hero Houseplants That Will Love You Back
- Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms
- Everlastings: How to Grow, Harvest and Create with Dried Flowers
- Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty
- The Kinfolk Garden: How to Live with Nature
5. GET WRITE ON IT
Create a garden reflection journal.
Keeping a reflection journal lets you look back at the previous year and learn from your successes and failures. Assess your gardening needs and experience level before purchasing a journal. Or use the quiet winter months to get creative and make your own journal.
Ideas for what to include in your reflection journal:
- Make a sketch of your garden layout from season to season.
- Have your own photo shoot and take pictures of each of your plants.
- Record daily, weekly, and monthly observations.
- Keep track of your seeding and planting dates.
- Create a list of seasonal task reminders.
6. MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE
Audit your gardening tools and equipment.
Conduct regular reviews of the condition of your gardening tools and equipment. Make a list of what items need repair and what will need to be purchased. Think about items that will likely malfunction soon, so you can be prepared with finding a replacement or new parts.
Tips for caring for your tools:
- Sharpen shears, spades, and trowels with a metal file, whetstone, or sharpening stone that is appropriate to the size of the blade.
- Clean pruning tools of ingrained dirt or sap with a wire brush and wash them in soapy water.
- Smooth worn wooden handles with a medium grit sandpaper to remove any splinters.
7. BE A SEED SEEKER
Order seeds for the upcoming growing season.
The first few weeks of the new year tend to be when the seed catalogs arrive in our mailbox. While you’re inventorying your equipment, also take a look at the seed packets you have on hand. Review your reflection journal for thoughts on what you’d like to plant come spring.
Tips for ordering your seeds:
- Read the catalog descriptions carefully so you can select the right seeds for your region and soil conditions.
- Save all your catalogs and reference them for gardening information and tips.
- Consider splitting seed packets with a fellow gardener so you can fit more of your favourites in your garden.
We can’t wait till we can trade in our winter gloves for gardening gloves when we reopen on March 6, 2021. Until then, we hope you enjoy these winter garden care activities, and we would love to see your beautiful blooms in the spring time.
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