Through the Seasons: Winter at a Glance
by Eddie Strange, PNA Gardener & Groundskeeper
For many homeowners and aspiring gardeners, laying out a game plan for regular care and upkeep can feel like a daunting task. Knowing just when to plant, prune, fertilize, etc. also has a huge effect on the overall health, success, and yield of your garden. So where to begin?! Here is a general home and garden maintenance guide to help you get oriented in the basic flow through the season.
Keeping a garden journal can be a great tool for helping organize a routine and plan ahead for various tasks. I’ve known some folks to take it to a whole other level and develop their garden journals into some truly amazing scrapbooks, complete with pressed flowers, family recipes, pictures, personal notes, poems and art, herbal folk remedy recipes, reference info, materials and “D.I.Y. article clippings, plant profile tags from the nursery, seed packets organized in their respective months and more! Or just print these articles to hang on your refrigerator for a ”to-do” checklist!
This guide was developed for the Pacific Northwest Hardiness Zones 7 – 9.
GENERAL MONTHLY TASKS for WINTER
- Good time to plant ROSES, PERENNIALS, BIENNIALS, BERRIES and FRUIT TREES.
- Prune vulnerable branches of DECIDUOUS TREES and ROSES to protect from winter weather damage.
- Start planning for next seasons VEGETABLE GARDEN: prep beds, order seed packets, seed-start containers, etc.
- Continue to tend to and stir compost bins.
- Apply dormant sprays to FRUIT TREES & DECIDUOUS SHRUBS, avoiding contact with annuals. (see “D.I.Y. Dormant Spray Recipe” below.)
- Clean and service mowers, gardening tools and other equipment. *Before storing, be sure to empty out fuel from gas-powered equipment.
- Sharpen, sanitize and lubricate pruning tools, ahead of the coming primetime pruning season (late January – early March).
- To prevent rust on pruners and other garden tools, store in a bucket, filled with sand with a little oil added (motor oil works fine).
- As the thermostat starts to go up, keep an eye on indoor plants and begin to adjust watering accordingly.
- Firewood ash can be saved for a SOIL AMENDMENT (to raise pH of acidic soil). Pine needles, to lower pH of alkaline soil.
*D.I.Y “DORMANT SPRAY” RECIPE:
- 1 gallon of water
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp. baking soda
- 2 Tbsp. Castile soap
- Add 3-4 inch layer of mulch, straw (or other permeable organic matter) to protect roots of delicate and vulnerable plants from winter damage..
- Fertilize, rotate and mist INDOOR PLANTS. Begin to taper off fertilizing.
- Good time to PRUNE flowering dogwood, golden chain trees.
- Also, time to PRUNE wisteria and grapevines.
- Inspect and clear gutters, downspouts, and drains.
- Check basement walls and floors for leaks.
- When possible, minimize heavy traffic on Winter weather stressed lawns.
- Inspect yard for puddles, drainage issues, signs of water erosion.
- FRUIT TREES can be planted this month.
- Sow seeds (indoors) for early SPRING VEGETABLES & ANNUALS.
- Wrap up planting and/or transplanting of ROSES, this month.
- Add a 3 to 4-inch layer of COMPOST to trees and garden beds.
- Check your lawn for bare spots and “potholes” collecting water, and fill with MULCH.
- Best time to prune most DECIDUOUS TREES and SHRUBS, FRUIT TREES (apple, pear, cherry, peach, plum), FLOWERING TREES (ornamental plum, cherry blossom, crabapple), butterfly bush, witch-hazel, hydrangeas, hibiscus, viburnum, redbud, mimosa (silk tree), strawberry tree, willow, holly, smokebush, crape myrtle, nine-bark, burning bush, cotoneaster, barberry, abelia, photinia, fuchsia, hawthorn.
- Also, good time to prune FLOWERING VINES jasmine, clematis.
- Add organic fertilizers to SHRUBS, EVERGREENS, and ROSES.
- Good time to PLANT (or transplant) TREES, SHRUBS, PERENNIALS, etc.
- BERRIES (grapes, raspberry, blueberry, etc.) can be PLANTED this month.
- Sow INDOOR SEED STARTS for tomatoes, peas, onions, cabbage, etc., herbs, annuals.
- Tune-up and service lawnmowers, line trimmers, leaf blowers, pressure washers, etc.
- Control pests & disease on FRUIT TREES with Garlic Spray *(see recipe below).
*DIY “GARLIC SPRAY” RECIPE:
- 2 oz. Garlic-infused vegetable oil
- 2 oz. liquid Castile soap
- 1 pint of water
- Mix in a spray bottle and go!!
Eddie Strange has been taking care of the Phinney Center and Greenwood Senior Center campus grounds for five and a half years. His blog, The Homesteader’s Hearth & Home Herald is monthly garden journal, with an emphasis on traditional 100% organic and sustainable home and garden practices, offering fun and informative D.I.Y. Feature Articles, a monthly almanac, a “SACK O’ ALMANAC”, Tips, Tools & Info, Family Fun Features and more.