Winter is arguably a gardener’s least favourite season. Many of us spend the three months staring at our gardens solemnly, waiting in anticipation for spring. But winter is the perfect time for one thing we all like to avoid – gardening chores. Get started on these essential garden tasks early, so you can spend your free time in spring enjoying the fruits of your labour.
Clean, clean, clean
Gardeners are a particularly messy bunch. Dirt, cuttings, disorganized tools and half-opened bags of potting soil are a norm throughout the year. Winter is the perfect time to sort through the chaos. Put your garden organization skills to use in your garden shed by categorizing and putting away all your gardening products. It likely won’t stay that way for long, but it will give you a tidy start in the busy months of spring.
Use this time to clean, disinfect, and sharpen all your gardening tools too. If you’ve been slacking on some autumn chores, like cleaning up garden beds and edging (we’ve all been guilty at some point), get started now to avoid piling on the list of tasks to tackle at the end of the season.
Protect your plants
Those that experience cold South African winters will already know how important it is to protect your more sensitive plants from harsh weather. This is a task that can’t be done too late – once frost damages your plants, it can be incredibly difficult for them to recover. Cover susceptible plants with frost blankets at any sign of freezing temperatures and bring any containers indoors for the evenings. Add a hefty layer of mulch to all the garden beds to insulate the soil and protect the roots from extreme cold.
Amend your soil
Soil is the foundation of every good garden bed, and winter is the ideal time to improve it. You can start by doing a soil test to determine what nutrients your soil is lacking, or simply dig in with mounds of compost. This task is best left towards mid or late winter, in preparation for planting in spring. However, if you have particularly poor soil, starting early gives you plenty of time to ensure it is up to scratch before planting time.
Build new features
In spring, the focus is always on the plants. So, in winter, turn the focus to everything around your plants by building new features. Winter is a great time to plan and structure new pathways, water features, or new beds primed for spring flowers. Alternatively, you can use the time to tear down old features that are not working anymore and replace them with something fresh.
Plan for next season
And lastly, the best chore of all – flexing your creative muscles (if you can call it a chore at all). Winter is not only the season of organizing, but also the season of planning. Start by taking stock of your seeds and ordering more to be ready for planting in Spring. Look at what worked in your garden over the past year and what didn’t as a starting point for your new garden plan. Don’t start planning too late, as you may lose out on some of your favourites to those gardeners on the ball.
Winter will be over before you know it, but with all your gardening chores completed, you’re bound to be ready for it.