*TV guy voice*
It’s a problem that thousands of people face every year. Harder to solve than who took the cookies from the cookie jar, and just as expected as the sun coming up, thousands are still devastated whenever it happens… Just what can a gardener do *dun dun dun* when the snow starts falling?*end TV guy voice*
Ok so maybe that’s a little over dramatic, but it IS a problem that most gardeners face. Most people think that you can’t do anything related to a garden once it turns cold and the snow comes.
I’ve never been one to listen to what other people think.
There’s plenty you can do for your garden when the weather is wintry, and if you’re a beginner who’s just starting out, there’s even more to do. Novices can read books such as “Starter Vegetable Gardens”, to get an idea of how to plan and plant their garden, or “Seed Sowing and Saving” , to learn about individual plants, where and how they grow best, ways to get them to germinate, whether they can be transplanted easily, how to transplant without damage, if the seeds should be soaked or scratched or put in the freezer, and how to tell if seeds are viable or not. Advanced gardeners can read these same books to get new ideas, or books like “Four Season Harvest” to learn what things grow in cold weather or “The Vegetable Gardeners Book of Building Projects” to learn about things to increase productivity and size of your plants.
If reading is not your forte, think about what you feel went well with your garden this season, make a note to do those things again, and also what went not so well (keep a running list throughout the season so you can remember anything), so that you know what to tweak next year. Figure out how you’re going to rotate your crops- it is essential to do so to keep your soil full of nutrients, and to keep building the soil after you take so much from it. If you have any sort of “i” device, download the ‘Grow Planner’ app from Mother Earth News and start making a plan for next year! If you don’t have an “i” device, get a piece of graphing paper and you can do the same thing! (The graph paper might even be easier).
If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse, then just keep gardening! Invite neighbors to visit your greenhouse and give them lessons on gardening basics, share tips, and tell them what you’re favorite things to grow are and why.
Winter is also the BEST time to buy gardening supplies. Just like all the candy goes on sale after All Hallows’ Eve, all the gardening stuff goes on sale as soon as it starts to get chilly outside! Have you been needing to buy a fence to keep the dog from crushing your seedlings? Buy it now! Was that irrigation system you wanted too expensive in May? It’s probably not anymore! And don’t just look at gardening stores or supply stores like Lowe’s… check out sites like Craigslist. Many people get rid of most of their gardening stuff after the growing season is over, and give it away for free on there! You can get shovels and fencing and mulch and hoses and pots. If you want to start your seedlings indoors and have never done so before, build a cold frame– you get more points if you’re able to transport or carry it.
You can also join a seed exchange, and get new things to grow for next year. Alpine strawberries are supposed to be planted in October! Instead of raking up leaves and throwing them away, spread them over the soil where you want your gardening area to be, they will insulate it and you can start planting sooner! Rake up your neighbors leaves for free and use them too. Composting can be done all year round, and you can use this time to improve your compost if it hasn’t been exactly right.
If you want something more hands-on, start an indoor herb garden in your windowsill. Fresh herbs all year long, and it doesn’t even take up much room. I use the containers we have for Christmas cookies! (A downside to this is that I have to wait until the Christmas cookies are made and all of them have been eaten). But you can use a bowl, a large cup or mug, or anything else you can think of to upcycle.
There’s plenty to do for your garden in the winter, and not all of it involves buying a bunch of fancy, often expensive, gadgetry or supplies. Those who say you can’t garden in winter, simply aren’t trying to find enough to do.