A Gardener’s Winter Survival Guide

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
A Gardener’s Winter Survival Guide

Winter can be a tough time for gardeners. Many of us yearn to be outdoors planting flowers, herbs or vegetables; not stuck indoors looking out frosty windows.

But this important season of the year can be an unexpected pleasure for those who love to grow things. Here are six of my favorite ways for gardeners to survive winter with style:

1) Appreciate Nature: Make the most of winter by accepting that this dormant period in nature is an important one in our seasonal cycles. Deciduous trees and perennials may look dead now, but there is a lot of important root growth happening under the earth, which will be noticeable in the spring. That thought helps me tolerate cold wintery days, knowing that nature’s cycles are happening as they should – even if I can’t see it.

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During the winter, I take time to look for animal tracks in the snow, or spot winter birds at the feeders, to help me better appreciate nature during this time.

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2) Preserve Food: On a stormy winter night, I love to grab frozen pesto cubes or dried herbs preserved from my garden, and toss them into a home-cooked meal. Growing my own food from spring through fall, and then preserving it for winter use, keeps me closely connected to my kitchen garden all year long. Even when six inches of snow are covering my raised beds. For those of you who use greenhouses or simple hoop houses and other plant coverings, you can grow vegetables like kale, Brussels sprouts and carrots all winter long.

3) Read About It:  When the snow’s piled high outside and gardening seems a million years away, that’s the time I pull out the reading material. Seed and plant catalogs begin to arrive, tempting me to try a new heirloom lettuce or a lime-green perennial. The new gardening books start hitting the store shelves, and later my home book shelves. And even those old favorite books that I haven’t read in years start appealing to me now. Use this quiet wintery time to refresh your horticultural knowledge, learn about a new plant or remind yourself why you started gardening in the first place. When spring comes, you’ll probably be too busy outside in the garden to read as much as you can now.

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4) Grow Indoors: During the summer days, I’d rather spend time tending my garden beds, rather than devoting much effort on indoor plants. But as temperatures drop, I really value the ivies, begonias, peace lilies, spider plants and other favorites that thrive inside. These indoor plants not only add natural charm to a home, they also improve indoor air quality at a time of year when our windows are often closed during winter.

5) Stay in Shape: In a few months, you’ll be spending hours twisting, turning and bending down to get everything in the garden back in shape. Be kind to your body by keeping in shape now, so it’s not such a shock to the system later. Take long walks in the snow. Incorporate stretching and yoga into your daily routine to keep the body limber. And don’t forget to do some weight training regularly too. You’ll be lifting those heavy bags of potting soil and compost soon enough. Keeping in shape now will save you aches and pains later.

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6) Remember Other Hobbies: I don’t know about you, but when the gardening season hits, I often let my other hobbies suffer. Winter is a great time to rekindle your love of other activities that can get overshadowed by gardening. Have you always wanted to visit that vintage clothing shop? Now’s the time. Eager to improve your photography skills? Take a class. Keeping busy with your other hobbies in winter let’s you keep up with your diverse interests, and helps you endure the wait until you can be in the garden again.

However, you decide to survive these wintery months, rest assured you’ll be back in your garden soon enough!