Often we look at winter as a burden. A waiting period we’d much rather skip. Patience is not my strong point, and yet, I’m leaning into winter this year. Knowing that if I spend this time wisely, it will make spring and summer more organized. This means a possible better yield and garden quality based on what I’m choosing to work now. Winter garden prep is here, let’s get busy.
This post is in partnership with Washington Grown. See yours truly (that’s right, ME!) on each episode of season 10 where I’m sharing recipes, cooking tips, and more all season long! Join us by watching here!
Go Through Seeds | Organize | Toss | Purchase
I love to pour myself a cup of coffee (or wine if it’s in the evening) get comfortable at the table, put on some nice music, and organize my seeds. Do I sound like I’m 80? Maybe, but it brings me joy.
I’ve actually just made an upgrade to my seed organization and purchased this seed container that in reality, is for photos. However, it’s the perfect size for seed packets. And with my handy dandy label maker, I’ll soon have a much more put together seed area. At the moment, it’s a hot mess.
When organizing seeds, make sure to check dates. Three years is about the spot where they should be tossed. Germination rates drop pretty significantly at that point. If you have space, throw them in a field or extra area (you own) and see if anything pops up. You may be surprised. However, don’t spend time trying to get them to germinate in seed trays or in a dedicated spot of you garden. Most likely, you’ll end up with several “dead spaces” where no seed grew. Not only does that end up waisting your valuable time, but it could put you behind schedule.
Once you’ve organized and tossed what’s no longer usable, it’s time to plan your garden, and finally, purchase the seeds you’ll need.
I have a whole in depth seed post that goes over the differences between seed types. From heirloom, hybrid, to GMO. Before planting it’s important to understand what kind you should purchase, keeping your gardening goals in mind. The seeds will affect your ability to be able to seed save and more.
Some of my favorite places to purchase seeds are:
These are just a few of the many great companies out there!
Plant garlic and other bulbs
Depending on your zone, this could be done is the late fall or early winter months. However, some bulbs can also be planted later winter or early spring. Again, do your research both per bulb and zone.
Clean up the garden
If your garden isn’t covered in snow, it’s a great time to clean it up a bit in preparation for the next year. I have a trellis that collapsed under the weight of my gourds last year, and it’s sad brokenness is smack dab in the middle of my garden. I like to leave the dead plants through the winter, as it is a great area for birds to search for seeds throughout the cold months, and also a spot for good bugs to hibernate. Native bees seek out and hibernate in hollow stems.
Prune Trees and Vines
Winter is the perfect time to prune fruit trees, roses, even grapes. Pruning in the cold months is easier on the tree and causes less stress since the tree is already dormant. Late winter pruning also cuts down on the chances of pests or pathogens entering into the fresh cut.
Clean and inspect garden tools, sharpen, purchase new if needed
Garden tools get . . . well they get gross. Now is a good time to dump out your tool holders, clean and wash if needed, and wipe down all tools. If you have a sharpener for pruning sheers, sharpen them. Are your gloves toast? Need a few new pairs? Order them now. These are some of my favorite.
Year in Review
These cold months are a great time to sit down and think over the past year. What worked well? What didn’t? Did an area not get as much light as you needed to grow a certain crop. This is also a good time to sun map. Sun mapping means you basically watch your garden area for one day, mapping where the sun hits when, and for how long. Then when planting, make sure sun and shad loving plants are in the proper spots.
Plan for Spring
With the information you gathered from reviewing, plan out the new year. Make a rough drawing of your area and decide what goes where, and now many of each plant you’ll need, especially if you’re planning on canning and storing produce over winter in cold storage. Efficiency makes the planting and early spring season much easier.
Read about it
I love reading, but summer and fall are so busy it’s hard to find the time. In the winter months, it’s much easier to sit down, get cozy, and read a few pages daily. I’m all for a good mystery novel every now and again, but more than anything, I’m so excited to learn. Some of my favorite gardening books are:
What does your winter garden prep look like? Do you do any of these things? I’d love to hear in the comments, and please make sure to follow along on Instagram as I share my gardening adventure in real time!
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