Winter is the most difficult time of the year for your plants, as temperatures can go below freezing, and sunlight is minimal. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to preserve a healthy garden throughout this time, you just need to put in a little more effort. If you’re new to gardening, figuring out what you need to do on your own can be difficult, and you might find yourself becoming confused. The best thing is to look for specialised advice that can help you figure out the best course of action.
Here are some tips that you can use not just this winter, but for years to come, to help protect your garden in the face of the much-dreaded winter freeze.
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Bring it indoors
While some plants are resistant to frosts and low temperatures, most will fare better if they’re brought inside. Balcony pots can help you achieve that, regardless of the type of plant you’re looking to bring indoors. They are easy to attach and many even come equipped with overflow pipes that can regulate excess water to prevent the soil from becoming drenched and harming the roots. However, you must remember to keep the pots in similar conditions as outside. While you don’t want them in environments that are too chilly, too much heat can cause them to wilt as well.
That’s why the balcony is the ideal place, as the heat from inside your home can radiate to the plants and warm them up just enough. Make sure the plants are still getting as much sun as possible. If the temperatures don’t get too low where you live, the pots can also be moved inside only during nighttime, to let the plants get plenty of fresh air throughout the day.
Humans and pets love to get under blankets when the air outside gets nippy. It’s cosy and warm, and one of the simplest yet satisfying comforts during the cold months. Plants are pretty much the same. Creating covers for them is the best choice as transferring them indoors isn’t an option. After all, there’s no way that you can move all your vegetables inside.
Instead, you want to make sure that they’re protected from the cold so that when spring arrives they’ll be ready to bloom again. Many materials can be used as plant insulation, from covers specifically designed for this purpose to plastic, burlap, and cloth. Make sure to cover them completely and not leave any openings, but be mindful of covering them too tightly. You might damage the top of the plants.
Mulch is a material applied at the surface of the soil that helps maintain its health. It traps moisture inside, reduces weed growth, improves fertility, and can even act as a visual enhancer of the area. While inorganic mulches do exist, and are typically made out of synthetic materials that break down so slowly that they last forever, such as rocks or geotextiles, the natural, organic variant is still better. Wood chips, bark, leaves, compost, cardboard, straw, and sand are all good options. Since they tend to be quite heavy, they’ll keep the ground very warm.
Mulching can also protect against soil uplift, a common problem arising from the numerous freeze-thaw cycles. Shallow-rooted plants can even be pushed out of the ground, and subsequently exposed to freezing temperatures. After the first freeze, you should apply a thicker layer that is anywhere between seven and 12 centimetres.
Some plants are not suitable to be brought indoors, and if you have a more extensive garden, it’s downright impossible to get them all inside for several months. Luckily, you can take care of them outside too. For vegetables, you must make sure that they are harvested before the weather gets cold. Most veggies are sensitive to low temperatures, and frosts can quickly make them inedible. While others such as green leafy vegetables tend to be hardier, the cold can also make them tough and unpalatable.
Outdoor planters can help protect your plants as well. Peonies, coneflowers, coral bells, Siberian irises, blue spruce, catmint, winterberries, primroses, leeks, rhubarb, broccoli, kale, cabbage, Austrian winter peas, fava beans, and arugula are just a few of the plants that you can expect to survive even during harsher temperatures. For extra insulation, you can add straw or shredded leaves, but snow can also serve this purpose. The added benefit of planters is that they can be brought to a more sheltered location for wintering if the weather is particularly harsh.
Lemon trees have become quite popular among those interested in growing gardens, mainly due to their ability to produce fruit throughout the year. Lemons also find a wide range of applications in cooking, and the zest, rind, and even full lemon slices can be incorporated into marinades, salad dressings, different sweet or savoury sauces, and, of course, baking.
Lemon trees can handle lower temperatures, but never for extended periods. You must shield them from crisp wind and frosts. If you’ve got your tree in a pot, you must bring it indoors as soon as it gets cold, as it is at particular risk of becoming damaged. However, you must keep in mind that getting adequate levels of heat and light is crucial for the tree’s well-being. Even throughout winter, a lemon tree should get as many hours of direct sunlight as possible.
Lemon trees placed in planters require a lot more feeding throughout the year, so you mustn’t skip soil fertilisation. However, during the winter months you don’t need to do it as frequently. Once a month should be enough, and you should also look into options that are specifically designed for the needs of lemon trees.
To sum up, looking after your garden during wintertime takes a little more effort and planning, but it is nonetheless a must to ensure that your plants will be happy and healthy come springtime. All your hard work will pay off when the warm season rolls in.