The activity in your vegetable garden will slow down during the cooler months of the year, much like your lawn and flower garden. This reduction in activity provides you with the perfect opportunity to work on your vegetable garden. Preparation is essential to a successful vegetable garden and that is exactly what you should focus on doing during the cooler months.
- Plan for the spring
Winter is a great time to plan your spring vegetable garden because does not require your daily attention during the winter. Planning is essential because timing can make the difference between an abundant or sparse vegetable garden. You need to decide if you are going to start your plants indoors from seeds or if you are going to buy plants that have already been started from your local garden center. You also have to plan out when each type of plant needs to be put into the garden.
During the winter months you need to plan the layout of your garden and decide if you should rotate any of your plants. Rotating your plants can keep certain nutrients in your soil from becoming depleted and protect your plants from pests that have burrowed into the ground for the winter. For example, tomato hornworms often burrow into the ground for the winter near the spot where you planted last year’s tomatoes. If you plant a new crop of tomatoes in the same spot the hornworms will have quick access to your new plants.
Winter is also the time to plan and complete any major projects in your garden. Do you want to build some raised beds? Get to work during the winter so they are ready for you to transplant your seedlings in the spring.
- Work on your compost pile
Your compost pile needs a certain level of heat to activate the decomposition process. Thankfully, that does not mean that your composting efforts have to screech to a halt in the cooler months. You can keep working on your compost pile for your vegetable garden soil throughout the winter by continuing to add organic matter to it. Continue to add the organic scraps from your kitchen to the compost pile and work on the leaves that have fallen in your yard. Add leaves to your compost pile after you have chopped them up so the decomposition process goes more quickly. You can help your compost pile continue with the decomposition process by keeping it as warm as possible through the winter. This can be done by creating a shelter or increasing the size of the pile so the center remains warm and active.
- Plant cool weather vegetables
There are some types of vegetables that you can put out in the garden while the weather is still cool. Some examples of these types of plants include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, and shallots. The exact timing to get these plants into the ground depends on where you live. Look up the hardiness zone for your area and compare it with the hardiness of the cool weather vegetables you are considering.
Do not let spring surprise you and make you scramble at the last minute to get everything ready for your vegetable garden. You can do the majority of the planning and preparation for your vegetable garden during the cooler months so you are ready to go when the spring arrives.