A winter gardening checklist for springtime

MSR News Online/MSR News Online

If you’re like most of us, you’re thinking it’s December and gardening season is over but, not so fast. There are still plenty of tasks for gardeners to do — even in this frozen tundra — to prepare for the new season.

Here are seven quick items to check off your gardening to-do list to help make springtime a welcome breeze.

Clean up garden debris

If you have not already done so, remove spent plants from the garden since they can harbor disease, fungus and insect eggs. If you are sure old garden plants are disease/fungus-free and there are no insect eggs, you can dig a garden trench and bury them, which will add some organic matter to the soil and actually improve its overall health. If you are not sure whether your old plants are free of disease/fungus and insect-eggs, it’s best to bag, tie and discard.

Prepare your soil for spring

Most gardeners wait for spring to amend their soil, but now is a good time to add soil amendments like manure, compost, and bone meal. In most climates, adding nutrients at this time of year means they will have time to break down, enrich your soil, and become biologically active.

You can cover the bed with plastic to prevent rain and snow from washing them below the root zone, then uncover and till the soil in spring. Consider doing a soil test to determine just what your soil is lacking. Preparing soil now will give you a big head start next season.

Make way for more compost

Cleaning out old compost piles will make way for more. To keep microbes working a little bit longer, build a fall compost pile with the abundant fall leaves, eggshells, coffee grounds, fruit peels, along with straw, or sawdust layered with kitchen scraps.

Replenish mulch

You can get a head start on mulching, which helps reduce water loss, protect soil from erosion, and keep weeds down. Adding a thick layer of mulch to the soil’s surface also helps to regulate soil temperatures and moisture and make for an easier transition into the winter. While the mulch breaks down, it will incorporate new, fresh organic matter into your soil.

Clean and sharpen tools

There’s never enough time to tend to tools when gardening is in full swing in spring and summertime. Now is a great time to lengthen your garden tools’ lifespan. Begin by washing tools to remove dirt and debris. If there is any rust, remove it with a steel wool pad. Sharpen hoes, shovels and pruners and then oil up your tools to finish. Once spring arrives, you’ll be happy you took time now for garden tool maintenance!

Repairs

Now is the perfect time to get your garden repairs in order. Fences, trellises, other plant supports, cold frames, pots, and painted surfaces are all easier to see and gain access to when plants are dormant. Besides, some problems in need of repair are unsightly, especially with the lack of foliage in the winter. Dig into repairs now and fix as much as you can, well before spring madness.

Plans and Plants

Now that you’ve accomplished time-consuming tasks in preparation for the winter, it’s time to get to the good stuff: perusing garden plans and picking plants you’d like to grow next spring. Not sure where to start? Check out Bonnie Plants, which is the largest producer and distributor of vegetable and herb plants. They offer a plethora of gardening information, from growing techniques and information on more than 250 varieties of vegetable, herb, and some fruit plants to how-to projects, as well as harvest and storage information.

The weather outside may be frightful, but there is always something delightful that can be done to spruce up your garden throughout the winter season. By the time you finish off this checklist, map out new plans and pick out plants, you’ll be well on your way to a super simple spring garden.

For tips to get your garden jump-started, visit bonnieplants.com.

— Information provided by Green Earth Media Group