Winter has well and truly arrived, and most of us are trying to wrap up warm and stay out of the cold. However, it’s not just humans that are affected by the harsh weather, but plants as well. When the most favourable option is to sit on the sofa in front of the fire, it’s important to get outside and take steps to start protecting gardens against the elements.
Frost can signal trouble for plants whether they’re in pots or beds, so it’s important to stop compost from freezing, as this can damage roots and completely kill off plants. Mulch is a great way to keep flower beds insulated, and it’s a good idea to leave fallen leaves where they are to provide extra cover rather than leaving compost exposed. Pots and planters are at risk of cracking or crumbling away unless they are frost proof, so ensure you buy the correct type to save money and keep plants safe. If temperatures drop extremely low, bubble wrap and other insulating materials can be wrapped around pots or draped over beds and vegetable patches to give an extra layer of warmth.
Gardens, patios and balconies are all prone to flooding or collecting water after heavy rain. To avoid waterlogged pots, invest in some small terracotta pot feet to raise pots beyond stagnant water and allow proper drainage. This is not only preferable for plants, but will avoid stains forming around the base of pots.
Many outdoor plants are hardy and will happily survive winter, but it’s a good idea to provide shelter for more vulnerable shrubs and flowers. Plants preferring warmer conditions or newer, less established ones should be moved under shelter. A gazebo or cold frame can work well, or just a position nearer the house to give some respite from the elements. If in doubt, research the hardiness of your plants and move any potted or easily transportable plants to a less exposed spot.
It’s easy to pay less attention to the garden when it’s ‘out of season’, but we must remember to keep a close eye on plants and their conditions. Heavy rainfall can made soil waterlogged, wind can knock over or damage fruit trees, and any plants moved under shelter could be in danger of drying out. Take a look at the whole garden at least every other day and remedy any issues you encounter.
Despite frost and severe weather, many pests will thrive. Urban gardeners are often keen to keep vegetables growing all year round – and winter crops are by no means safe from harm! Last year’s mild winter meant that the number of slugs grew significantly, and wet weather suits them perfectly, so keep an eye for slugs and snails, removing them where possible. Animals such as foxes can be troublesome in city gardens and have been known to dig up bulbs and vegetables. Protective netting can help protect against this, but remember to leave out food for creatures such as birds and hedgehogs who can struggle when frosts hit.
By taking time to check and protect gardens, plants and veggies during tough winter months, gardeners will be rewarded for braving the cold. Not only will plants stand more chance of surviving the harsh weather, but they are more likely to flourish and produce more flowers and increased harvest the following year. True gardeners will commit to providing TLC all year round – whatever the weather!
Featured Image from @urbangardenersepublic
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