Even if the ground is still covered in snow where you live, spring is indeed coming. The more you can accomplish now, the lighter your workload will be when the planting season starts. These 10 ideas will get you off to an early start and satisfy that need to garden–even in winter.
1. Order seeds and summer bulbs. This is the first priority to preparing for spring. If you plan on starting seeds indoors, it is essential to order your seeds early enough to allow for the needed grow time. Ordering early assures that the flower bulbs and seeds, in the varieties you prefer, are available.
2. Make a compost bin and rain barrel. If you don’t have a compost bin yet, this is the time to start. You can build your own bin with scrap lumber or purchase a rotating barrel type composter and be ready to start composting as soon as the garden gets its spring cleaning and the lawn starts to grow. Also, consider collecting rainwater for watering your plants. Collecting the water from the downspout of your home or garden shed gutter system will give a good water supply during the dry periods.
3. Clean and sharpen garden tools. This is the perfect time to clean all your tools. Scour them to remove any debris and sanitize them to prevent spreading plant diseases. Once your tools are clean and sharpened, give them a light coating of oil to protect them. Repair or replace any garden tools that are broken. Also, check your garden supplies of seed starter mix, pots and fertilizer.
4. Examine boots and gloves. Now that your garden tools are ready for spring, assess your personal equipment. Is it time to invest in replacement garden boots? How about gloves? Do you have a good shade hat? Don’t forget to also check things like a kneeling mat or swivel seat that you may use in the garden.
5. Prune certain plants and shrubs. Check your shrubs and trees for pruning needs. Any dead or broken branches can be removed. While the plants are dormant, they are easy to observe for any poorly positioned branching that also can be corrected. Remember not to prune any spring flowering shrubs like azalea or lilacs or you will be removing the flower buds. Wait to prune these shrubs until after they flower. Check for damage from hungry rabbits or other animals and provide protection if needed.
6. Start seeds indoors. Check the back of the seed package to determine the right time to start your seeds indoors. Work back from your last frost date. Include time till blooming and germination time to determine when to plant each type of seed. Be sure to provide plenty of light and, in some cases, extra heat to ensure success.
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7. Check your fencing. Check your fencing for any damage and make necessary repairs before plants start growing. Powerwash your fence to remove any debris, mold or fungus. Once your fence is clean, apply a coat of sealer or stain to protect it.
8. Clean your greenhouse. If you are fortunate enough to have a home greenhouse, early spring is the time to give it a good cleaning. Wash all the glass to allow the maximum amount of light in. Clean and sanitize your benches and shelves. Any pots and containers you plan to reuse should also be cleaned and sanitized. Your greenhouse is a great place for garden pests and disease to winter over so be thorough.
9. Keep cleaning up throughout the season. Garden cleanup doesn’t have to be done in one massive cleanup in the spring. It can be a gentle cleanup throughout the winter and early spring. If the grasses you left in the garden for winter interest have been beaten down by winter snow load, go ahead and cut them off and remove them. If the seed heads you left for the birds have been eaten, cut them also. Remove any debris such as sticks and branches that fall off the trees in the winter storms or leaves that have blown into your yard. Don’t be too quick to remove protection from your tender perennials.
10. Assess your outdoor space. This is a great time to look over your garden. Does it have some winter interest? Could you add some evergreen shrubs or shrubs with colorful branches? Determine if any of your perennials need to be divided. Do you need to refresh the mulch? Maybe you will want to extend your garden beds or add new edging. Take notes and get organized for the coming garden season.
All these tasks that can be completed in late winter and early spring will help take the pressure off when the cleanup and planting start in earnest.