Although there’s no digging in the dirt in our immediate future, at least for those of us in the freezing snow covered states, there are still a few things you can do in your garden now for a happy garden this spring. If it’s not freeze your face off cold by you, then knock a few things off this checklist.
FIRST . . .
Make sure your plants, trees, and bushes are protected from any salt used on the driveways, sidewalks and streets. Shovel the snow away from plants that you haven’t covered. Gently brush heavy snow off your bushes and lower branches of trees. Even the sturdy bushes will thank you.
SECOND . . .
CHECK YOUR PERENNIALS: If you planted perennials last year, especially in the fall, the roots are probably not firmly set yet. When the snow has melted, and it’s not crazy cold, walk through your garden and check perennials and ground covers for visible roots, which is called Frost Heaving. The freeze – thaw cycle repeated in wide temperature fluctuations, causes the roots to “heave” out of the soil. This is most common in areas with a lot of clay soil, which is us in Illinois and you all in Virginia (soil as red as any clay pot I’ve ever seen). Gently place the plant back in the soil. Resist the urge to work the soil as you did when you first planted your perennial because working soil that is too wet destroys the soil structure, meaning no air pockets for the good bugs and no space for the roots to grow. You may need to add a little soil around the roots of the plant and water it before covering the roots with some type of mulch. If you’re not getting much snow, check these plants regularly until the Spring.
THIRD . . .
Believe it or not you can actually prune your trees and bushes in the middle of the winter. If shoveling snow wasn’t enough exercise for you, grab your pruners and prune dead, diseased and crossing or rubbing branches. Remove water sprouts and suckers too.
LAST . . .
It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want to add to your garden. Sketch out a couple different plans for that troublesome shady corner that never grows anything but mud. Are you thinking of adding a patio or a deck? An arbor over a path or a pergola over your deck? Now is the time to start planning.
Just remember, no matter how grey, or cold, or buried in snow you may be now, Spring and Summer ALWAYS follow Winter. So once you’ve finished your work outside, grab something or someone to keep you warm until then.