5 Winter Projects that Prep for Your Best Spring Garden Yet
By Leigha Staffenhagen
As winter rolls in, you may find yourself in a funk — especially if you’re a gardener with a green thumb. The growing beds are bare, the leaves have fallen from the trees and the dark skies that roll in a little earlier make you long for sunnier days. Hold on — just because the summer gardening season is over, doesn’t mean you can’t plan to get your hands dirty next spring!
Use winter to evaluate (or re-evaluate) your spring gardening goals – set yourself up for success to grow your best harvest yet! If you’re new to gardening, we have tips to help you get started – read on to learn the five winter projects to do now to ready your green thumb to have the best spring garden yet.
As spring rolls around, you could just throw some seeds in the ground and see what happens, but for best results, use a garden planner to map out and maximize your growing space. Now comes the fun part! It’s time to order your seed catalog and decide what varieties and produce to plant. There are so many options to choose from and by spring, the grocery store’s produce won’t be able to compete with your homegrown harvest!
2.Weeding, Weeding and More Weeding
Fall and winter are the best times to weed the garden. The beds are clear of produce and you don’t have to worry about the risk of accidentally yanking that prize tomato plant out of the ground. Before you reach for the Roundup, consider doing your soil a favor by opting for more natural weed killer options. Once you’ve finished cleaning the beds, fill them with plenty of mulch-utilizing mulch not only helps to keep the weeds out, but it provides your soil with a host of beneficial nutrients.
3. Show Your Soil Some Love
One of the first things you learn in gardening is that not all soil is alike. Plants can die simply because the soil doesn’t drain well and it doesn’t hold many nutrients. Winter is the perfect time to test and amend your soil mix. There are a variety of soil testing kits available on Amazon, but if you really want to take it to the next level, consider having your soil tested at your county’s local extension office or check out this soil testing laboratory database to find a location near you. Once you have an idea of what your soil needs, get those hands dirty and mix it up. To maintain the quality of your soil, make sure to do ongoing maintenance such as applying compost, cleaning up dead material, practicing crop rotation and growing cover crops for the winter.
4.Clean ‘Em Up
Don’t just toss your gardening tools in the garage and forget about them, clean them up for storing until the spring. Disinfecting your garden tools is a good way of warding off potential pests and disease and don’t forget to sharpen up any tools that are dull. Nothing is more frustrating than gearing up for some pruning or weeding and the tools are too dull-making it difficult to cut and trim. Tools that are sharpened regularly will last longer, too.
5.Cover Up from the Cold
Your garden bed clean-up is done and now’s the time to protect any winter plants from the coming frost. Consider investing in portable cold frames or row covers to keep the warmth in and the cold out. Another option is to invest in a greenhouse or build your own. You can start your seeds inside and once the last frost is over, you can move them into the ground. This is a method to use for those that live in very cold regions.
Bio: Leigha Staffenhagen is the managing editor of Insteading.com, a homesteading and sustainability site focusing on everything from gardening and raising chickens to off-grid living and tiny homes.