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How to prepare your garden for winter season

1. Clean up: Remove any yellowing or diseased leaves and leave the rest in place. Also remove all the dead plants. All dead and withering plants are a rich source of organic matter. Burying them in the soil will improve the overall health of the garden soil, making it more fertile for the coming months. Clean and sharpen the equipment, tools and supplies as well. Although most gardeners know they should keep tools clean and well oiled throughout the year, it’s difficult to keep up with this task when gardening is in full swing. Begin by washing tools to remove dirt and debris. If rust is present, remove with sandpaper or a wire brush. Sharpen hoes and shovels with a basic mill file. Finally, rub the surfaces of your tools with an oiled rag coated in light machine oil. This will help seal the metal from oxygen and extend your tools’ lives for another year.

2. Weed out: Weeds are truly a menace when it comes to gardening. They grow like a plague and are really tough to get rid of completely. Remove invasive weeds that may have taken hold over the growing season to prevent weeds from leaching nutrients. Chopping down and adding these unwanted weeds to the compost pile would also not stop them from growing again. Rather, dig them up from the ground and throw them out in the trash or burn them, this is the only foolproof way of ensuring these invasive conquerors don’t pay a visit to your garden during the winter season.

3. Cover-crops: Cover-crops protect your fertile garden soil from the after-effects of cold winter winds and frost. Plant cover crops like rye, crimson clover, oats, oil-seed radish, etc.! They’ll rescue the soil from being eroded by breaking up compact areas in the soil and increasing organic matter to the garden beds. While most cover crops are planted at least a month before the frost hits. Typical cover crops for grazing are cereals and legumes like ryegrass, wheat, sorghum, millet, oats, triticale, barley, hairy vetch, red and white clover, Austrian winter pea, cowpea, etc.

4. Amend the soil: The long period of the monsoons makes the soil tight and hard. It is not so suitable for planting new seeds. It is essential that the earth is loosened and oxygen goes inside the soil. For a garden bed, a well-draining and porous soil is best. Amend its quality by adding manure or compost. For the containers, go for any standard potting mix. Make your own by blending two parts of peat moss, one part of compost or manure, one part of garden soil, and one part of perlite or coarse sand. You can find all the post-monsoon care tips in our blog “How to do Post Monsoon care of your Home Garden”.

5. Compost: Harvest and regenerate your compost. Now that you have dug up all the ground, you need to apply the compost so that the fertility of the ground goes up. This creates an ideal environment for growing new plants and having larger flowers. Adding nutrients at this time of year means they have time to start breaking down, enriching your soil, and becoming biologically active. During the colder months, the microbes in the compost must be kept active. For winter composting, move compost bins to a sunnier part of the yard if possible. And use layers of leaves, straw, cardboard or sawdust to help insulate and keep warmth in the pile.

6. Replenish mulch: Mulching helps to reduce rapid water loss in plants, protects the soil from eroding and keeps invasive weeds out. Like plants, the soil also transitions from warm weather to cold winters. The freezing and thawing of the soil, at this time, can seriously affect the plants whose roots are set deep into the soil. Adding a thick layer of mulch to the soil surface in the winter will not only regulate the temperature of the soil but also regulate the moisture levels, making the plant’s transition to the winter months much easier. And as the mulch breaks down it incorporates fresh organic material into your soil.

7. Watering and Irrigation System: It would be adequate if you pay close attention to the pattern of temperature drops to have an idea of when to start winterising the system. If there is a sudden drop for only one night before temperatures spike again, you can protect the irrigation system by exposing pipes. Ultimately, it is best to prep your irrigation system before the primary deep frost, snowfall, or night when the temperature will drop. Plan beforehand to wrap insulation to protect the irrigation system from harsh winter temperatures and prevent it from freezing. Water the plant deeply whenever the topsoil feels dry to touch. Keep vegetables slightly moist all the time but ensure never to over water the plants. Also, never let the soil dry out completely.

8. Prepare the garden beds: Winter is the best time to build garden projects. Create plant supports such as raised garden beds, paths, rose arbours, sheds, or berry trellises. Make them a winter gardening project, and you’ll be ready for spring growth. Raised bed winter gardening makes growing winter crops or flowers much easier. Building a raised bed for the winter is neither difficult nor expensive. Prepare the seed beds in semi shade for seed sowing with fine soil & sand. Make the raised beds under full sunlight with garden soil & plenty of compost for planting of vegetable seedlings. Also, mix fresh green manure into the raised beds.

9. Light requirement : It is a winter gardening idea that will jump-start your growing year. A dedicated grow light system gives you plenty of room to start seeds in the winter, and you can even use it to grow a salad crop in the colder months. All you need to create one is a little space, shelves, and the right lights. Also, use it to start seeds indoors for planting outside after the last frost. Build a grow light system to grow quality vegetables, you need to provide them with at least 4-5 hours of direct sun daily. Choose a spot that gets bright light to get a plentiful harvest.

10. Plantation: Plant bare-rooted plants, cold hardy herbs and vegetables. Fill pots and hanging baskets with hardy evergreens. If you have flower bulbs in your garden, now is the time to dig them up and divide them before winter arrives. This prevents overcrowding and allows them to flower beautifully during the season. There are few flowers and vegetables to cheer up your Gloomy & Grey Winter days- Calendula, Petunia, Salvia, Zinnia, Lantana, Daffodils, Pansy, Tulip flower bulbs, Ixia flower bulbs, Freesia flower bulbs, Lillium flower bulbs, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, peas, onion, radish, carrot, lettuce, cauliflower, etc.

Avoid: Things to avoid in Winter season: Pruning, Transplanting, Feeding, and Overwatering.

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