5 Winter Gardening Tips

For most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, this winter has turned out to be a particularly brutal one. Record low temperatures and blizzards have already plagued many parts of the world, so the last thing folks in these regions might be thinking about is planting their spring and summer gardens. But they should be!  There’s plenty of things we can be doing in the winter to prepare for the upcoming growing season. Here are five winter gardening tips to help jumpstart your spring planting.

Start seeds that need longer growth times.

There are many veggies that don’t need long to grow. Tomatoes, for example, can be started just six weeks before the last day of frosting, but others should be started much earlier. Crops like onions and leeks usually need about a 10-12 week head start, and those can be started mid-winter. Other plants that need to be harvested before the peak of summer heat, like broccoli, should also be planted early.

Order new seeds.

When it’s snowing so hard outside that, you can’t make it out of your driveway, cozy up next to the fire with a seed catalog and start dreaming about warmer weather!  Consider ordering new crops that you’ve never planted before. You’ll be able to get organized early and hit the ground running come spring.

Start a compost pile or bin.

But not just any compost bin. Consider starting an indoor worm compost bin, as you won’t have to worry about the cold weather slowing down the micro-organisms that break down food scraps as you do with outdoor bins. This will ensure you have plenty of nutrient-rich soil to plant with in the spring.

Build a cold frame.

A cold frame is basically just a miniature greenhouse that will allow you to continue working small sections of your garden, even when the weather is not optimal. It may not do much good in blizzard-like conditions, but they will likely allow you to get an earlier start in the spring and grower further into the fall season.

Trim some branches.

The winter months are a good time to trim tree branches and prune shade bushes. This will ensure that once you get your spring and summer gardens planted they’ll get plenty of sunlight. Plus, it’s healthier for the trees to prune in the winter as they’re in their dormant phase.