Holiday time is approaching, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to get a little gardening in between the shopping and entertaining. Since the sun is shining less brightly, the soil has started to cool. Lower light and shorter days mean less productivity for plants.
Here are some ideas for winter gardening:
1. Plant for the Coming Cool Season
Winter vegetables include everything in the cabbage family: broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, and everyone’s new favorite—kale. Any of these can be grown as row crops for the kitchen, but consider putting a few in a half barrel or other container for both their edible and ornamental uses. Colorful rainbow chard is another great choice.
2. Consider Color
Cool season flowers like bachelor’s button, stock, sweet alyssum, calendula, foxglove, Iceland poppies, and pansies all thrive as winter approaches. Pick a color palette of similar or contrasting tones and group different types together in the container of your choice. Only one or two colorful pots will lend a festive air to your patio or deck. If you tuck in a few dormant bulbs, they will take over as the annuals wane. Narcissus and all its forms, gladiolus, lilies, tuberose, Mexican shell flower, and rain lily all fit the bill.
3. Compost in the Cold
Compost all the trimmings from your garden. Even in the cool months, bacteria and fungi will be doing their magic to produce beautiful planting amendments for spring. Use one of the patented composting bins, build your own, or just layer the materials in a corner of the garden. If you are ambitious, turn the pile once or twice (a good way to monitor the moisture level) or simply leave as is.
Mulch and water your favorite trees and shrubs. Much editing is going on because of the drought, but these are ways to nurse these larger shrubs along.
4. Gifts for the Wildlife
Don’t forget the birds and beasts, too. A shallow bowl of water will give them a welcome drink and a cleansing splash. Place the bowl in a quiet place where visitors have a view of the surroundings and potential threats. Keep filled and flushed with clean water as needed.