As winter approaches in an organic garden, the main harvesting season may almost be over, but there is still plenty to do. As the days get shorter, we may be less inclined to spend a lot of time outdoors, but it is possible to grow and eat from your own garden all year round, even in cooler climates, and to do so, it is important to keep on top of all the garden jobs at this time of the year. Here are some of the preparations that you should consider:
Preparing For Winter Weather
Winter can bring with it a number of weather extremes that can be challenging for the year-round organic gardener. You may experience heavy rains, strong winds, or ice and snow. The key to weathering the storms is to be prepared.
One of the things that you could do is consider an undercover growing area. A polytunnel or greenhouse can allow you to protect annual or perennial food crops in winter. Even an unheated undercover space can make a big difference to what is possible.
Whether or not you have an undercover growing area, you should take a look around your garden to make it safe and to prepare for worse weather to come. Remove dead, damaged or diseased limbs or branches on trees or shrubs. Look at the way water and wind move through your garden and think about how you can change things to improve the scenario for your plants. This might involve, for example, planting a wind break to create shelter, or building irrigation channels or planting trees to decrease the risk of flooding.
Protecting Perennial Plants
The time for annual crops may be drawing to an end but you may well still have plenty of perennial plants – trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials – to protect. In addition to protecting these from strong winds with wind breaks, and taking other such measures, you can also give them extra protection from extreme weather, if required, with cloches, mini-polytunnels, horticultural fleece, straw etc...
At this time of year, you may also wish to consider renovating older plants, lifting and dividing certain perennials, and carrying out a bit of judicious pruning where this is required. Keeping plants in shape will help to keep them happy and healthy over the months to come.
Feeding the Soil
One of the most important jobs in any organic garden is taking care of the soil. Mulching thickly on all growing areas and between perennials will help to protect the soil ecosystem and will add nutrients to replenish those taken during the growing season. Fallen leaves are an important resource that can be used to re-feed your soil.
Planting for spring is important, not just for your own growing efforts but also for pollinators and other beneficial wildlife that will be out and about early next spring. Consider planting flowering spring bulbs for early blooms, as well as crops for overwintering, such as onions, garlic, peas and broad (fava) beans.
These are just some of the things you should consider when preparing for winter in an organic garden.