Gardening isn’t just a summertime pursuit. From starting seeds in late winter and early spring to overwintering your favorite herbs and flowers, gardening often becomes a year-long passion! In this post, we’re going to show you various ways to enjoy the many benefits of a winter garden.
Some Vegetables Just Love Cold Weather
If you’re new to an area with relatively mild winters, you may be surprised at the number of vegetables you can grow throughout the winter. There are many plants that actually prefer the cool soil and air temps of fall and winter. Your local garden center can suggest the best varieties for your area as well as advice on when to plant them for a successful winter garden.
Broccoli and kale (along with their many relatives in the brassica family), spinach, salad greens, peas, and most root crops actually prefer growing when the weather is cool. Even gardeners in the north can extend their growing season on either side of winter. By using cold frames, row covers, and plenty of decomposing mulch, you can keep these same cold-loving plants going long after the heat-lovers have wilted away at the sight of snow.
Expecting Bitter Cold? Move Your Herb Garden Inside
Does the hint of fall in the air have your tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants shivering in their beds? If so, you may think your gardening season is over for the year. Not so! You may have to give up those big, bushy sun lovers ’til next spring, but there are plenty of fragrant and tasty herbs that love a sunny windowsill. Try these plants for your new indoor herb garden:
- Lemon balm
- Oregano, Greek
- Parsley, Italian flat-leaf
- Thyme (including lemon thyme)
Just remember that most herbs prefer to live life a bit on the dry side. Let the top inch of soil dry out before you give them a thorough watering. They generally like all the sun you can give them, too. They especially crave the sun during the long, gloomy days of winter.
You’ll need either a very sunny windowsill or some grow lights to keep them happy. If you opt for grow lights, you can even grow them in an otherwise dark basement as long as it offers good air circulation.
Get a Jumpstart On Next Year’s Garden
Start sweet peas in pots in late fall or early winter for next summer’s pleasure. Let them get fairly tall and then cut them back to 6″. They’ll branch at the bottom. Keep cutting each branch back to 6″ and when it comes time to plant them outside, you’ll have well-branched plants that will reward you with masses of fragrant flowers!
Now that you know some secrets of a successful winter garden, what are you waiting for? Gather pots, potting mix, seeds, or plants and get growing!