Winter is a time to get ready for spring in your garden. There are tasks to do both outdoors and indoors before the last frost gives way to the warmer temperatures of early April. You can improve the soil by weeding and adding compost; map flower and vegetable garden beds; read garden catalogs to plan purchases; and winter sow flower and vegetable seeds.
Weeding and Enriching Soil
Winter weeding prevents the spring headache of perennials being choked by a lush growth of plants you never intended to dominate your landscape. Don’t rely on herbicides, because they inhibit the growth of all seeds, including the ones you plant. Instead, old-fashioned hoeing and hand removal are best.
Top garden beds with a layer of compost and autumn leaves shredded with your lawnmower. Earthworms draw this organic mulch down into the soil where it adds nutrients and loosens the ground to provide pathways for water and air to plant roots.
Mapping Your Garden
Draw diagrams of existing garden beds to remember where bulbs and other perennial plantings will pop up during the growing season. Mapping helps in identifying holes in the landscape for new plants and beds. Also, drafting a vegetable garden map aids crop rotation to avoid soil depletion.
Chilly, sleepy days are excellent for perusing print and online garden catalogs. Use the information from your garden maps to identify locations to fill with replacement plants and new choices. Consider how to integrate plantings with any changes in hardscape and outdoor furnishings you hope to make. While inside, note how to improve outdoor views from windows. This enhances elegant interiors.
If you’re itching to plant seeds but can’t or don’t want to grow flats indoors, try winter sowing of flowers and vegetables that don’t mind a bit of chill. The National Gardening Association notes a number of plants, including carrots and lettuce that can be seeded outdoors in mid to late winter. Try the milk jug “greenhouse” technique for starting plants outdoors during winter as detailed by the University of Maryland Extension.
Winter may seem like off-season for gardening, but it’s an important time to prepare for spring abundance.