Winter Gardening Through Plant Story

December 22, 2021

Thomas Tran

Plants experiencing winter's frost
Plants experiencing winter's frost

While gardening is not for everyone, some people do enjoy keeping the family garden or tending to a little place in the local community garden.

Even though gardening is most common during those summer months, if you decide to, you can have a garden year round with an assortment of seasonal vegetables and herbs.  There are a couple of ways to look at winter gardens:

1) gardening to have a winter vegetable crop to harvest

2) maintaining the garden throughout winter for a spring harvest.  Since we are already into winter, we would be looking more at the latter.

While gardening is often treated as a seasonal sport, it is possible to play in winter too .  you just have to learn a slightly different set of rules.  The first, and most important, step is to understand which crops are best adapted to indoor growing.  Then it’s a matter of creating the right conditions for each. 

 

cabbage heads mature during the winter
cabbage heads mature during the winter

Winter may not seem like the time to think about your garden.  But take advantage of this break from the growing season to catch up on tasks that were put off during the rest of the year.  Whether it’s protecting plants from severe cold, decorating the yard for the holidays, or planning for next year, there’s plenty to keep busy while you dream of spring.

 

Attempting to grow summer crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, or melons, outdoors in the winter is a recipe for disaster.  Instead, plant the following cold-tolerant crops, which thrive when the temperatures dip.  They’re divided into slow-maturing, mid-maturing, and quick-maturing plants, which is useful when timing your garden for your region. 

Winter has always been a good season for a wide variety of crops in the southern states, and in the northern tier of the United States, you can grow the same crops if you use a winter-protection device to extend your garden’s productive season.  This may come in the way of a cold frame, a simple greenhouse, a hoop system or just a layer or two of floating row covers.  All of these season extension devices capture some of the earth’s natural warmth, especially at night, and block the chilling, drying effects of the wind.

Winter is also a great time to get a head start on your spring crops. Just place spring or summer vegetable seeds in starter pots and grow as you would in the green house. Just make sure the temperatures are high enough for germination for the types of plants you are sowing. Once the weather warms up in spring those plants can then be transplanted into the garden and already have a few months head start from seeds started in ground late spring.

What has also become more popular is pruning in the winter before the onset of spring. This allows the plants to be thinned to grow better or toward a desired size or shape. Along with pruning, grafting can be done just before bud break in the spring to add new varieties to your already existing trees. This is especially useful for those who have limited space in their gardens but like variety in what they grow.

pruning
pruning

Whatever your desire may be, these are just a few options a gardener has when it comes to gardening, staying active during the cold season and getting yourselves ready for next year.

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