Gardening in winter may seem like a daunting task. Those cold, wet days aren’t too inviting when compared to curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a good book. However, there’s nothing better than waking up to a crisp, fresh winter morning - the type that gives a day great potential. It’s those days that we don our wellies and get our hands dirty doing some winter gardening.
Given the season, it’s reasonable to ask ‘what should I do in the garden this winter?’. After all, most of your fruit and vegetables have been harvested and it’s too wet to start any big projects. The truth is, there’s plenty to be getting on with, not least prepping for Spring.
Here’s a short guide to gardening in winter to help drag you off the couch and make the most of those beautiful, sunny winter days.
5 Winter Gardening Jobs to Add to Your List
1. Protecting Plants in Winter
Before getting started on any other jobs, it’s important to protect what we already have. This means laying horticultural fleece over your beds and fleece jackets for your potted plants. Fleecing your existing plants will protect them against frost, hail and all manner of flying creatures. Try to do this before the heavy frosts arrive and make sure it’s top of your ‘to-do’ list.
A lightweight fleece is best for use in winter, somewhere around 17gsm. This makes the fleece light enough to lay on top of beds and plants without causing damage. Horticultural garden fleece of this weight also lets in plenty of sun, moisture and air to keep your plants happy.
2. Cleaning & Sorting Plant Pots & Tools
Many of us will have all manner of pots hanging around the garden, shed and greenhouse. Winter is a great time to collect all your loose pots, clean them up and get them ready for re-purposing in Spring.
Empty terracotta and clay pots should be kept indoors during winter as freezing temperatures can cause them to weaken and crack. If they are in use, move them next to a wall or your house to give them a little more protection from the cold. After cleaning, plastic pots can be stored outside.
3. Repair Jobs in & Around the Garden
Winter is a great time of year to inspect features, walls and ornaments in your garden. Most plants and trees won’t have as much coverage so you can get in there and do the work you need to without disturbing or pruning your plants.
Sealing up cracks and damage is best done before temperatures drop below freezing. Once this happens, any water that gets into cracks and expand making damage even worse. If a project is too big to take on right now, even a temporary fix will help to lessen the damage until you get round to doing a proper job.
4. Water Your Plants!
It may be an obvious one, but plants still need watering during the winter. Although the sun and heat might not be as intense, dull, grey days don’t always produce rain so your plants will be thirsty if you forget to water them.
If you can, water your plants in the day when the temperature is at it’s highest. Doing it at night risks water freezing into and on top of the soil. Bear in mind that the ground may be hard, or even frozen causing water to run-off into different beds and plants. To overcome this, water little and often so the water has a good chance to penetrate the soil.
5. Help Local Wildlife
There’s plenty of things you can do to help wildlife in winter, and they will reward you by coming back and filling your garden with life in the summer. Birds in particular love fat balls and seeds as it keeps them going during the winter. Adding a bird table and bird feeders can help to bring some much-needed warmth and energy to your garden in the winter.
It’s important not to forget the little guys too. Upturned plant pots make great winter homes for smaller critters. Creating a messy pile of logs and leaves is sure to attract hedgehogs while insect hotels and plant pots with holes in the top make great homes from bugs and bees.
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