Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Winter Gardening

When late fall and ultimately, winter, arrives on the scene, many amateur gardeners put away their spades and go inside to wait for the warmth of spring. While there is not much outdoor gardening to be done during the cold winter months, gardeners can still be active. Not only are there opportunities for indoor gardening, gardeners can enjoy planning their garden for next year, as well as organizing and replenishing their tools. When the cold winds and snows of winter begin to blow at your house and you think your gardening days are over, think again, and consider doing the following to pass the time.

Clean out your shed or garage. Wherever you keep your gardening tools, whether it is in a tool shed out back, in your garage, or on a shelf in your basement, you know the place. It is a messy place that is neglected all summer long while you enjoy the sunshine of the outdoors and all your precious flowers and plants. Winter is a great time to go through all your gardening tools and items to see what needs to be replaced, and to neatly store the items you will keep. Make sure your spades, rakes, shovels and other tools are in good working order. If anything is broken or unsafe, either fix it or replace it. Clean out the watering can and empty and store your garden hose. Wash and repair your gardening gloves, or better yet, buy yourself a brand new pair that will be waiting for you, come spring. Clear off any shelves or clean out any bins that hold your equipment. Clean and fold up your work table, and store any insect repellants, fertilizers and other like items in a safe place. Wash or wipe them down and then line everything back up neatly. This way, when the frost melts and you are ready to plant your seedlings in a few months, your gardening equipment will be ready.

Map out a plan for next spring. Gardeners are as varied as the plants they enjoy working with. Some like to wait and see what the spring brings, and buy plants and vegetables on a whim, while others enjoy planning exactly what they will do. If you are not much of a planner, at least consider taking out your calendar and planning what to do when. Find out exactly when it is safe to begin planting outdoors in your area, when all signs of frost will be gone. Mark this on your calendar and then count back six to eight weeks so you will know when you can begin planting and nurturing the seeds for your garden. Mark a week or so before that date as the time when you will need to buy soil, seeds, etc. Having a plan will help you not to get behind schedule on your gardening; this is especially important if you live in a climate that has a short growing season. Once you have your calendar planned out, write down ideas for which plants you will grow and where you will put them. Will your vegetable garden be in the same place this year? If so, exactly how do you want to lay out the vegetables? Where will you plant your perennial flowers this year? Will you put impatiens in the hanging pots as you do every year, or this year will it be geraniums? Ask yourself these questions and enjoy making your plan. It will save you time and money in the spring.

Do indoor gardening. The winter months often bring sunshine into our homes as no other time does. With all the leaves gone from the trees and the sun at a low angle, we often find sunshine streaming through the windows. Consider planting seeds which will grow through the winter, or bring in your impatiens and see if you can nurse them through the winter months. Setting up small terrariums and miniature gardens in our windows during the winter helps to take away the winter blues and makes the time pass much more quickly.

With these ideas in mind, the winter will pass and before you know it, you will be back out in your garden, digging in the soil, enjoying the sunshine, and wondering what you did all winter!

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