For the most dedicated enthusiasts, gardening is a year-round pastime. Even in the dead of winter, there is plenty you can do to increase your success and be prepared for a busy spring.
1. Get inspired — Dreaming about next season’s garden is fun, and inspiration is easy to find. Rodale’s Organic Life recommends visiting a local botanical garden. Most have indoor conservatories where you can view lush tropical plants you may want to incorporate as annuals in your own garden. Borrow gardening books from your library and peruse magazines for new ideas.
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2. Organize seeds — A messy pile of half-empty seed packets can slow you down in spring. Figure out a way to organize your seeds that makes sense to you and invest in a container for them. Tomato Envy recommends using a portable plastic file bin that can be carried out to the garden. Seed packets can be stored in labeled file folders according to crop type, plant family, or cool and warm season crops.
3. Plan your garden — Grab your pen and paper, draw your vegetable garden, and label where you will plant certain crops. Consider light requirements, companion planting, and crop rotation. Get Busy Gardening says this approach also works well for annual and perennial borders in your garden.
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4. Get your tools in shape — Spring pruning leaves little time for giving your hardworking pruners and loppers the care they need. Rodale’s Organic Life says the calm of winter is the best time to clean, sharpen, and oil your tools to keeping them working their best for years to come.
5. Prepare seed starting equipment — Get Busy Gardening recommends sterilizing your seed starting trays using a 1:9 bleach solution to prevent lingering fungal diseases from ruining your tender seedlings. Make sure you have plenty of germinating mix and that your grow lights are in good working order. If not, order new bulbs and install them before starting your seeds.
6. Compost — A properly maintained and built compost pile should still be cooking even in the cold temperatures of winter, says Rodale’s Organic Life. Continue to feed it and turn it over. Your spring plants will thrive in the compost-rich soil.
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Brande Plotnick is an ambitious home cook, gardener, beekeeper, writer, and speaker who started her website, Tomato Envy, to inspire others to find their deliberately decadent life at home. Brande’s down-to-earth style and approachable manner have been winning over the readers who follow her blog. Her work has been featured in Urban Farm Magazine, Natural Awakenings, Mother Earth News, and the Whole Seed Catalog.
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