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How to Plan a Winter Garden

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Old 01-02-2020, 04:22 PM
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Default How to Plan a Winter Garden

Planning a winter garden can keep your green thumb active throughout the colder months of winter. Before you begin gardening, set a plan that you can maintain during the colder months. Winter calls for hardier crops and flowers compared to those you’d plant in summer. Winter crops include turnips, carrots, mustard greens, and beets. Winter gardening also requires measures to protect the plants from the cold temperatures and hostile growing conditions of winter. Remember to start early, and keep in mind that winter gardens may not thrive in certain climates.


Preparing the Winter Garden
  1. Start planning in mid-summer. As unpleasant as it may seem to think about cold winter temperatures and snowy days in the middle of the summer, you need to start planning the garden early. This will give you enough time to have your plants in the ground before the first frost, and will prevent you from having to scramble to assemble your garden in September.[1]
    • If you live in the northern hemisphere, start planning in July. If you live in the southern hemisphere, start your winter garden plans in January.
    • If you live in the American Deep South, or other regions that stay warm well into winter, you may be able to wait until August to plan your garden.
  2. Find out the average date of the first frost in your region. The first frost will **** most plants, but hardy winter crops will survive the first frost if they’re planted early enough. Time your plants to fully mature before that date by planting them 6-8 weeks in advance.[2]
    • Speak to your local garden authorities (such as the 4H extension office or master gardener club) to help you time your winter garden precisely.
    • You can also look up the approximate first frost date online. Input your ZIP code at: https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates/states. Note that this site is specific to the U.S.
  3. Rework your soil before you begin planting. Use a shovel and hoe to break up the soil and to loosen and remove the roots of summer crops. Use the blade of your spade to loosen the ground at least to a depth of .[3]
    • Reworking the soil will make it easier for your winter plants to extend their roots into the ground and to absorb necessary nutrients.
  4. Choose a garden location with good drainage. If you’re not using a garden plot that you’ve planted summer plants in, you’ll need to plant your winter crops in a patch of well-draining soil. Select a location that is blocked from the wind and receives as much sun as possible. A south-facing slope works best for a winter garden.
    • If you don’t have access to an area of soil with good water drainage, you can install a raised bed.
    • Avoid planting outdoor winter plants in individual containers or plastic planters. Plants’ roots can easily freeze in these containers, and this effectively ****s the plant.
  5. Add compost to your soil before planting. The majority of soil nutrients will have been used up by the crops and flora you planted during the spring and summer months. Add about of compost or other fertile natural material to your garden. The compost will replenish nutrients and help your winter plants grow.[4]
    • Composted manure, alfalfa meal, or a balanced organic fertilizer are all appropriate choices.
    • Adding compost initially will also keep you from having to fertilize crops during the winter growing season.
Choosing Plants
  1. Select a mixture of leafy greens to put in your winter garden. If this is your first time planting a winter garden, you’ll find that winter-crop options are surprisingly rich. To avoid the monotony of only having 1 plant type, and to enrich your winter meals, plant a variety of winter crops. These include many leafy greens like:[6]
    • Friseé (mature in 90-95 days).
    • Arugula (mature when tall).
    • Swiss chard (mature in 60 days).
    • Giant red mustard and Southern giant mustard (mature in 30 days).
    • Curly leafed kale. Pick kale leaves whenever you like. The plant will put out new leaves through the fall and winter.[7]
  2. Plant a variety of root crops. Balance out your leafy greens with root crops. Although root crops are typically less showy on the surface, they provide substantial additions to meals made from winter-garden harvests. To keep your garden active all winter long, plant a variety of root crops that will be ready to harvest during the late, middle, and early parts of the season.[8]
    • Beets and carrots (mature in 90 days).
    • Rutabaga and parsnip (mature in 90 days).
    • Early carrots and turnips (mature in 60 days).
    • Leeks and kohlrabi (mature in 60 days).
    • Chives and radishes (mature in 30 days).
  3. Add a variety of cold-weather flowers. Flowers will add a touch of color to your garden. Winter-tolerant species of flower will survive when the temperature dips below , although they may not withstand a heavy frost. Include flowers like:[9]
    • Larkspur and nasturtium.
    • Snapdragon and pansy.
    • Primrose and sweet pea.
    • Hyacinth and amaryllis.
Laying out and Protecting Winter Plants
  1. Plan a garden layout. To ensure that you have enough space in your garden, and to prevent your garden from running out of space, you can create a spatial garden plan. This will allow you to allocate enough garden space to each particular plant. You can also plan the dimensions of each garden bed to give yourself plenty of space to water and hoe the soil.[10]
    • Lay out the garden using a common pattern, including multiple rows each about wide.
    • You could also plan your layout around a “keyhole” or arch shape. This design features 2 main beds each about long connected by a thin strip of garden at the top.
  2. Plant your garden near a windbreak. While you could build a wall specifically designed to protect your garden from chilly and harsh winter winds, an easier method is to plant your garden next to the south-facing wall of your home, or of a permanent shed or garage.[11]
    • ****ing your garden up to an existing wall will offer protection, and the warmth will seep through the wall and help insulate your plants.
  3. Use a cloche to help warm your plants. A cloche is a portable, temporary greenhouse structure made of glass or clear plastic that gardeners place over winter crops to help them retain warmth. A cloche will insulate plants, lengthen your growing season, and prevent delicate winter plants from dying in cold spells.[12]
    • If you’d like to use a cloche but don’t have time to construct an elaborate setup, you can make a cloche out of an old soda bottle.
Caring for Your Winter Garden
  1. Water plants when the first inch of soil is dry. Plants growing in winter need dramatically less water than you may be used to giving plants in a summer garden. The soil does not need to be kept moist. In fact, it should dry out between one watering and the next. Water only when the top is dry.[13]
    • To see if the soil is dry, poke an un-gloved finger into the soil. If your finger feels dry up to the first knuckle, go ahead and water the garden.
  2. Do not fertilize plants over the winter. As long as you reworked the soil and added compost to the winter garden before planting your crops and flowers, you shouldn’t need to add fertilizer during the winter growing season.[14]
    • Plants absorb fewer nutrients over the winter than they would during the summer growth season.
  3. Add a grow light if the weather is mostly overcast. Just because winter crops and flowers grow well in cold temperatures does not mean that they thrive in low-light conditions. If you notice certain crops beginning to wilt during successive cloudy days, buy a grow light and set it up to shine on the plants. The grow light mimics the effect of sunlight.[15]
    • You can purchase a grow light at any plant nursery or large gardening center.
    • If you have a very large winter garden, you may need to purchase multiple grow lights to provide enough coverage.
  • Do not plant tomatoes, corn, beans, or squash as winter plants. They’re hard to keep alive in the cold and will almost certainly die.
  • Weigh cloche drawbacks before implementing one for your winter garden. They must be ventilated manually to prevent too much heat from building up on the plants, and they have to be properly installed so as not to blow away.
  • Prepare a Garden Pond for Winter
  • Grow Winter Onions
  1. http://ourstoneyacres.com/planning-a-winter-garden
  2. https://www.mercurynews.com/2014/08/...winter-garden/
  3. http://www.greenhousecatalog.com/winter-garden-crops
  4. https://www.sunset.com/garden/fruits...-planting-plan
  5. https://bonnieplants.com/growing/growing-kale/
  6. http://www.humeseeds.com/falwint.htm
  7. http://www.greenhousecatalog.com/winter-garden-crops

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