During winter season you cannot get any harvest unless you make good use of these tips. The truth of the matter is that you cannot apply summer gardening skills during winter and expect to record success. You need to understand what to grow and when to grow.
Winter can prove to be a very hard season for plants especially in the cold regions of the world. However, crops in the warmer areas still find the winter season quite challenging for survival. You will notice that the growth of most plants will slow down during such cold climatic conditions. As a farmer, knowing the right crops to plant is not enough to make your gardening a great success. There are several things you need to do to retain the health of your plants and record a bomber harvest during such seasons. The secret is to understand which crops to grow and how to take care them. This article presents the most important winter gardening tips and plants.
- Raising your Beds: Raised beds that have a permanent edge have been in use for growing flowers and vegetables for several centuries. You can build them from concrete, bricks, stone, or with either untreated or treated lumber. You can maintain the soil in the raised bed at between 8-12F which is warmer than the ground that surrounds the garden. You can also make single crop raised beds by stacking old tires together. The advantage of using black tires is that they absorb heat from the sun and this warms the soil more than ordinary raised beds. You can use them to grow potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes in the spring growing season and broccoli and Cauliflower during the fall of winter.
- Rotating Winter Vegetable Varieties: This is a critical element when it comes to winter gardening. You should never plant the same winter crop in the same location you planted them during the previous winter or summer season. The soil will become weak as a result of the continuous loss of the same nutrients, and the plants may also attract the same diseases and insects to that portion of your garden. Some of the winter gardening vegetable varieties you may inter-crop include Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Radishes, Lettuce, Peas, Potatoes, Swiss chard among other greens.
- Building Greenhouses: Greenhouses provide a frost-free environment to your crops throughout the year. Also control the plant diseases with master control over the plants using electric devices like climate control systems
- Using Walls and Wind Break: You can take advantage of walls and windbreaks to add close to 10℉-15℉ of warmth to your winter garden. Most gardening experts will inform you that a wall that faces to the south of your home, greenhouse, or shed is a strategic location for building simple structures that make good use of the free solar energy from the sun.
- Using Cold Frames: These are permanent structures that increase the length of the growing season. They offer an excellent alternative to growing winter and fall crops. These frames provide protection from strong winter winds, raise the overnight and daily temperatures around your plants, and provide protection to flowers and vegetables that are sensitive to frost. You can build cold frames with a lot of ease and the plants in them require minimal attention. You can start seeds close to 8 weeks earlier in a cold frame than outdoors. The slope will allow rain water to fall off and provides an excellent angle for gathering enough heat from the sun. The cold frame should face to the southern direction if you want to maximize its exposure to sunlight. You can partially open the cold frame to provide ventilation during warm sunny weather conditions. However, you need to use a thick cloth or burlap to cover your cold frames during cold seasons to offer additional warmth to your crops.
- Making Use of Cover Crops to Supply Green Manure to your Garden: Whereas it is advisable to leave a section of your land to lie idle during the winter, you can build it up by planting cover crops. These comprise of fast growing green plants that you can chop and plow into the garden. Such plants add green organic matter into the soil and decompose into humus. You can also use the legume family plants to enhance the level of nitrogen into the soil. Some of the warm winter cover crops include Purple Clover, Lupines, Winter peas, Lana Vetch, Bell Beans, Hairy Indigo, and Cowpeas just to name a few.
- Using Cloches: Cloches enhance the warmth of the climate around the raw winter plants. We can view them as portable greenhouses that come in various designs and use the solar energy to warm the plants or row that you place them over. However, you have to ventilate the Cloches during bright and sunny winter days manually. Secondly, Cloches that are ‘staked down’ or poorly constructed may become kites whenever there are winter windstorms.
- Applying Mulch: This technique serves several purposes in the winter garden. It insulates the root system of the plant with a blanket protection and discourages the growth of winter pesky grasses and weeds. Mulching also prevents soil erosion during the heavy winter rainstorms. You can use shredded newspapers, sawdust, bark, and peat moss for mulching. However, bark and sawdust leach nitrogen from the soil, and you should take appropriate steps to replenish the same. One or two layers of mulching material can serve your garden pretty well during the winter season. Some of the crops you can protect with mulching include turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, onions, carrots, and beets just to name a few. You need to occasionally dig down the mulch to confirm whether the soil has enough moisture. The chances of crops that are in dry soil surviving in winter are minimal. Remove the mulch as spring begins to allow the ground to warm.