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Ashleigh Smith

Dec 13
5 min read
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Written By Lara Wadsworth

Gardening is a lot of work in the spring, summer, and fall. Planting, tending to, and harvesting a garden are very time-consuming yet rewarding tasks. However, when the fall harvest is over, many people just sit and wait for spring to come. Don’t overlook the maintenance steps that can be done throughout the winter to benefit your perennials and prepare for the upcoming season. Keep busy and excited for the growing season with these tasks!

Plan Next Year's Garden

Probably the best way to get a head start on your next growing season is to plan out what, where, and how you plan to grow. Map out your available garden or greenhouse space and assign each area with plants you want to grow. Do research about how much space, light, and water different plants need and plan accordingly.

Perhaps you plan to grow pumpkins, or another plant requiring large amounts of space. Pumpkin plants become quite large by the end of the season, but they don’t need all that room in the early season. Plan to grow spinach or other quick-growing smaller plants in the available space before the vines grow large. If you don’t plan ahead for these things, you will miss out on taking full advantage of your garden space. Utilize a garden planner program like Hortisketch by Garden Savvy to help you get started.

Purchase Seeds

Once you have planned your garden out, you need to purchase all the seeds you need for it. Starting all your plants from seed may take more time, but it is cheaper in the long run. In addition, it provides you with a greater selection of varieties than any local garden center with pre-started plants might have. Garden centers typically only carry one to three types of each plant, leaving little room for new and interesting varieties. You will be shocked at how wonderful some of our heirloom seeds can be! Don’t worry about purchasing your seeds too early in the season, as properly stored seeds can last for years and years past their packaged year.

Seed Starting

Once you have your garden planned out and your seeds in hand, many seedlings need to be started as much as two to three months before the estimated last frost of spring. For many climates that means starting them in December, January, or February. Check the instructions on the packets or on their coordinating web pages for specific instructions. With grow lights, you can have some strong seedlings ready to go out into the garden as soon as spring arrives.

Winter Crops

Did you know that with a few aids, some plants can even be grown outdoors in the middle of winter? Spinach, kale, beets, rutabaga, chard, Brussels sprouts, and more can be adapted for winter gardening (varies by zone). If you have a greenhouse or hoop house, these are perfect for growing cold hardy vegetables. Even the aid of a cold frame or row covers can be sufficient in some areas. They take longer to grow than in the warmth and light of the summer, but they can still thrive with minimal supplemental heat and light. Of course, providing more light and heat will only increase the success and speed of your winter gardening.


Indoor Plants

Some plants can even be grown indoors. Besides the obvious houseplants, there are microgreens and grasses that can provide fresh veggies to eat all year long. Wheatgrass grows quickly and is a healthy addition to any diet. Microgreens just need a sunny windowsill and adequate water to thrive. If an outdoor year-round garden is not possible for you for some reason, try indoor gardening!

Compost

Did you know that you can actually compost year-round? There are two main ways to do this. The first is to insulate your outdoor compost bin. A healthy, balanced compost pile will kick off enough heat with a little bit of insulation to prevent itself from freezing. Surround your compost bin with leaf bags or straw (a minimum of 6 inches deep) and continue composting as usual throughout the winter. The other option is to continue composting indoors. A healthy compost bin does not smell bad. Many people have successfully composted indoors in plastic totes or metal bins. Collect compost tea or use worms to vermicompost. Composting is a great activity to do in the winter to ensure you have healthy organic matter to add to your garden beds come springtime.

Removing Snow

Probably the least fun winter gardening activity is removing snow. Although it is not fun, it is important! Remove snow off of your ornamental bushes and trees to prevent them from getting weighed down and damaged. Removing snow off hoop houses or greenhouse is also necessary to ensure the plants inside get as much sunlight as possible through the winter months.

Lara Wadsworth, True Leaf Market Writer

I am a native of Southwestern Michigan, where I also reside, and I love all things plants! I got a Bachelor's Degree in Horticulture and found the first work-from-home job I could get. Now, I spend my days writing for TLM, playing with my dog, eating delicious food with my husband, and plotting my next landscape or gardening move. I believe everyone should get down and dirty in the soil now and then. Happy Gardening!

Become a True Leaf Market Brand Ambassador! You’ll enjoy awesome perks, free products and exclusive swag & offers! Help us create a gardening revolution and help others experience the joy of growing!

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