Winter. The very word is enough to send a shiver up a spring-loving gardener’s spine. Brrrr! But, shivers or not, winter is here, and the savvy plant lovers among us should shake themselves out of their Seasonal Affective Disorder-induced funks, bundle up, and get out in the garden! Here are some gardening-related tasks you can accomplish in the winter, even when the weather outside is frightful:
Order seeds and make a plan. Now is a good time to browse through seed catalogs and start thinking about how you want to organize your garden come springtime. Make drawings, make plans, make lists, and order seeds early to avoid missing out on sold-out varieties. If you will need trellises and other built design pieces, now is also a good time to either build or buy them.
Sort tools and clean them. Go through your garden tools, discard the ones you don’t use (or turn them into whimsical garden sculptures!), and sharpen and clean the ones you do. You’ll thank yourself in the spring for your foresight.
Test your soil. Winter is a great time to break out the soil testing kit, or to send samples of your soil away for testing. If your soil needs nutrient or pH adjustment (more phosphorus, less acid, etc.), you can begin that process now before the ground is frozen, or just file the info away for after the future thaw—make a note on the aforementioned garden plan.
Basic maintenance and adjustment. If winter storms knock your stakes and trellises around, keep things in order by retying your plants and maintaining their integrity as best you can. Push heavy snow off of small, delicate branches to avoid breakages. Remove any tenacious winter weeds that have sprung up. Snip the remaining dead stems off your perennials to keep them looking tidy.
Feed the birds! Your feathered friends are hungry in the wintertime, and there’s nothing like a cardinal or two to provide a pop of color where your flowers no longer can. Keep your bird feeders full and enjoy the company of birds all winter long.
Winter’s a tough time for gardeners, but don’t worry: spring will be here before you know it! In the meantime, stay busy, and look forward to the Flower Show in February! We certainly are.