Winter Preps for Spring & 9 Tips

January and February throw cold and wintry weather at us.  But here in Virginia we always get a few days mixed in that are reprieves from the cold which are most welcomed.

I seize those days to get basic tasks done so that when spring and planting is upon us, I’m not overwhelmed by garden tasks.

Here’s a list of 16 things I like to accomplish in the dead of winter and some tips to go with them. Maybe they’ll remind you of something you want to do in your borders and gardens.

1 – Check the freezer

  • What remains to be used before this coming harvest?
  • What do you “need” for winter of 2011/12?

Tip #1: What you have used and thus – what you think you will actually need for next winter — will help you in determining what you should grow.  It’s a waste of your valuable time and resources to grow much more.

2 – Plan and order vegetable and flower seeds and perennials.

3 – Write down a rough time frame for planting various crops and flowers and how much time it will take.

Tip #2: Then add 20% more time.  (It always takes longer than planned.)

Tip #3: It’s amazing how writing it down helps determine if there is too much on the “to do” list. It’s easier to adjust now rather than in the full swing of planting.

4 – Using your garden chart – plan what will be planted in various beds so that when the time comes the mental work will already be done.

Tip #4: The hustle and bustle of a busy season makes it much harder to find time for mental work necessary BEFORE planting.  Done now and committed to paper, it’s a breeze when the season is upon us.

I made this simple chart of my garden beds on large spread sheet paper. It helps in planning what I'll plant each year. Crop rotation is easier with some form of written record. Believe me this is not fancy, but it does the job! Every 3 or 4 years I'll start on a new sheet. The second sheet under the top one is the one I started last year.

5 – Think about using row covers.  Make sure covers and earth staples are on hand so they can be easily obtained in season.

6 – Prepare new garden or flower beds if necessary.

7 – Weed anything that needs weeding. Edge borders.

Tip #5: Heavily mulch edges so weeds won’t spring up in the spring. Make sure there’s mulch on all bare ground in your borders and perennial beds so you won’t have to deal with weeds. Make sure all garden beds are protected from the elements with mulch.

8 – Get stakes or trellises ready for tomatoes, cukes, etc.

Idea: This year I plan on using some large bamboo poles for cuke teepees.

9 – Cut back last years vegetation in flower borders. Leave in the bed to decay and nourish the soil.  (Cut up finer only if you want.)

10 – Trap voles that are in the garden beds. See my post on voles for more about trapping.

Tip #6: In winter their exit holes are easier to see.  Traps are easier to set in winter because you don’t have to work around plants.  Trapping during the winter will go a long way towards getting their numbers down.

11 – Cut ornamental grasses by March 1.

12 – Cut and remove last years vegetation in asparagus beds.

Tip #7: Add lots of leaves to refresh the organic matter and a nice covering of straw over that.

Tip #8: My asparagus beds are about 8 years old and I am planning new ones with an eye to the future although asparagus can live sometimes 20 years or more.

Tip #9: I usually take  last years tomato vines and asparagus growth and pile them on the far side of my garden to decay.  I don’t like to leave the tomato vines or asparagus growth in the beds where they grew, but I like to keep them in a spot that when decayed the organic matter will be easily available. (If your tomato had any diseases take them out of the garden.)

13 – Thin raspberry canes.

14 – Trim shrubs, hedges and rose bushes.

15 – Plan new flowers and herbs for beneficial insects if need be.

16 – What shrubs, trees, or structures can be added to improve garden design?

Idea: I’m thinking of adding a bamboo trellis for a climbing vine for more eye appeal in one of my borders.

Final Words

Seize each day that is a reprieve from the cold to prep for Spring. Sure helps keep gardening hassle free and you’ll soon be patting your self on the back while you’re planting cold crops.


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1 Comment

  • Theresa, this post is much better than any book or magazine article I’ve ever read. That’s why I love to go back & reread your posts.

    A wealth of information. Have a great day!

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