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Winter Gardening Tips: Best Winter Crops and Cold-Hardy Varieties
Don’t limit your harvests to summer! No matter your region, you can grow cold-hardy winter crops that have proved they can take biting temps. Just follow these winter gardening tips from one of the foremost four-season gardeners in the country.
When we think of eating homegrown food during the cold season, we often think of staples such as potatoes squirreled away in the root cellar, or of vegetables such as winter squash stashed in a cool, dry place. But many gardeners are discovering the joys of harvesting fresh produce all winter long, which allows for feasts of cold-hardy crops that are just-picked and just right for the time of year. According to Jodi Lew-Smith of High Mowing Seeds in Wolcott, Vt., the seed-buying season used to be January, February and March. “Now there’s also a surge in June, July, August and into September for fall-planted crops,” she says. Eating from the garden is just too pleasant to give up simply because the temperature — and the snow — may have fallen.
I don’t mean growing tomatoes in January. Fruiting crops no doubt need long, sunny days and warm conditions to complete their delicious arc of softening, deepening in color and perfectly ripening. Winter fare is about leaves, stems and roots, which mature more and more slowly as the weather cools and the days shorten. Better still, winter vegetables sweeten with the cold. If you’ve ever tasted a winter-pulled carrot or winter-cut spinach, you’re familiar with the treasures winter gardening can bring.
With my husband, Eliot Coleman, I run Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, where winter production is a key part of our business. Over the past two decades, we’ve built, trialed and collected data on many hoop house designs and crop-protection methods. We’ve also tested many crops — and multiple varieties of those crops — to discover what grows best in winter.
The best mosquito-repelling plants for your garden:
If you don’t want to douse yourself or your garden in chemical bug sprays you can grow some of these plants to help keep mosquitoes away naturally.
Have you ever noticed that insects or even rabbits and other animals have never decimated your lavender plant? It is because of their lovely fragrance, which comes from its essential oils that are found on the leaves of the plant. It is even argued that lavender oil hinders a mosquito’s ability to smell! This plant is very tough and drought-resistant once established, and only needs full sun and good drainage. And while it can endure many climates, it thrives in warmer areas.
Marigolds, an easy-to-grow annual flower, emit a smell that deters mosquitoes. Grow them in pots and place them near your patio or entrance to your home to keep bugs out. Marigolds are also a popular addition to borders and vegetable gardens. According to NYBG, not only can they keep away mosquitoes, but they also dissuade aphids, thrips, whiteflies, Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs, and tomato hornworms.
Known for its distinct smell, citronella grass is the most commonly used natural ingredient in mosquito repellants. In fact, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden recommends lemon-scented plants such as citronella grass to keep mosquitoes at bay. And the good news is that the living plant is the most effective at repelling pests. This low maintenance plant does best in large planters because it cannot withstand frost, but in warmer climates, can be planted directly a sunny area in the ground. Also, when buying Citronella, make sure you buy Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus, which are true varieties.
Catnip (catmint) can be found thriving almost anywhere. It is from the mint family and grows abundantly both as a commercial plant and as a weed. It is very easy to take care of and may even start to invade other areas of your garden. However, if you are willing to forgo this plant’s insidious nature, they are amazing mosquito repellants and another recommendation from the BBG. In a study at Iowa State University, catmint was found to be ten times more effective than DEET, the chemical used in most insect repellants.
Another great mosquito repellant is rosemary. Both the New York Botanical Garden and PlantShed recommended this plant. Rosemary is an herb that many of us are very familiar with and their woody scent is exactly what keeps mosquitoes as well as cabbage moths and carrot flies away. They do best in hot and dry climates and thrive in containers, which may be ideal for areas with winters. They can also be pruned into all sorts of shapes and sizes and make great borders or decorations. While the pests stay away you can enjoy the herb’s scent and also use it to season your cooking.
Basil is another herb that can also double as a pest repellent. The pungent smell the basil leaves give off are what keep pests at bay. And since all kinds of basil work to keep flies and mosquitoes at bay, feel free to explore and find the right types of basil to mix into your garden. This herb likes to be kept damp, needs good drainage, and enjoys lots of sun. You can plant basil in containers or in the garden, alone or with other flowers, as long as both plants meet the same requirements.
Scented geraniums seem to be a popular mosquito repelling plant. Recommended by PlantShed, BBG, and NYBG, the favored scent seems to be lemon scented, which is reminiscent of citronella grass. They are beautiful blooms with a strong fragrance that keep several types of pests away. These fast growing plants like warm, sunny, and dry climates, but if you are in a cold climate area, they can be grown in planters with constant pruning.
Square Food Gardening
Benefits of Baking Soda in the Garden
2. To prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails while you work in the garden, draw your fingernails across a bar of soap and you’ll effectively seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can’t collect beneath them. Then, after you’ve finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and your nails will be sparkling clean.
3. To prevent the line on your string trimmer from jamming or breaking, treat with a spray vegetable oil before installing it in the trimmer.
4. Turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick! Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground, and next to it place a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance apart (from just an inch to several feet) you’ll already have a measuring device in your hand.
January Gardening Tips
Snow both protects and endangers plants. A good snow cover insulates the soil like a mulch. However, snow piled on evergreen branches weights them down, risking breakage. Knock snow from the bottom branches first, then work upward. This way snow from above will not add weight to the already burdened lower branches. If branches are bowed by ice, don’t try to free them. Instead let the ice melt and release them gradually.
Mother Earth News
Growers in all types of climates can grow a productive winter vegetable garden. In some areas, this requires the protection of a low tunnel or greenhouse, but in warm climates, winter is the easiest and most abundant time of year in the garden.
In June 2013, we sent a winter gardening survey to thousands of readers all over the United States and beyond, asking growers about their best strategies for growing food in winter. This page includes a large sampling of the responses we received, organized by Growing Zone.
Go to this USDA Hardiness Zone page or check the map below to find your Zone. You can click on your Zone in the list right below the map to be taken to the tips that came from readers in your Zone.
We didn’t receive any responses from you determined growers in icy-cold Zones 1 and 2, or in steamy-hot Zone 13, so if you grow food in one of those areas, leave a comment on this page and let us know your winter gardening tips.
For those of you with cool winters, check out Best Crops and Varieties for Winter Gardening to see which veggies may thrive best where you live.
Winter Gardening Tips From Zone 3
What coverings/protections work best for you in your winter garden?
Mulch and leaves.
A cold frame, hay or nothing for the hardiest crops.
I use clean straw.
I use greenhouses with small heaters to keep the plants from freezing.
What other winter growing techniques work best for you to get the biggest, healthiest harvests?
Choose your crops depending on your area and typical weather. Plant in a place that isn’t accidentally going to get worked in the spring (which happened to me this year … oops).
I try sowing some things in fall so those crops can start early in spring at their own convenience.
I grow a lot in cold frames inside my greenhouse under my regular benches.
Spend as much time in your garden as you would in the summer.
What are your best tips for getting the timing right when planning and planting a winter garden?
Watch the weather forecast for snowfall and drops in temps.
Observe results of trial and error, and learn to count backward!
I start in the first week of November while there is still a bit more warmth and sunshine to give the plants a head start for the colder, darker months ahead.
As winter can and does start as early as the first killing frost in fall, I do not plant a winter garden. We only have June, July and August in which to grow a garden, and this year my last killing frost was in June. The killing frost last fall was in September.
Winter Gardening Tips From Zone 4
What coverings/protections work best for you in your winter garden?
I use a lot of mulch and hay.
An unheated greenhouse, and extra cloth coverings when temps in the greenhouse go below freezing at night.
Leaves, and then other mulch.
I have used regular plastic on PVC for at least the past six years. I tried a number of different small commercial greenhouse kits with mixed success. I also currently use a 12-by-20-foot hoop house with small raised beds.
I have the best luck with my two cold frames. We have too much snow load for hoop houses, in my opinion. My chard, kale and collards have gotten crushed for the past three winters despite design changes each year.
I grow food in the house basement in large containers under lights.
I use a cold frame and floating row covers. They both work well.
Try a high tunnel, but you have to keep the heavy snow off.
Any of the commercial fiber coverings work, along with old sheets, etc.
What other winter growing techniques work best for you to get the biggest, healthiest harvests?
Colorado sun can make the greenhouse too hot for late summer/early fall planting of some greens, but if started too late plants won’t get large enough before growth slows with short days. So, I start many outside where temps are cooler, and then transplant into greenhouse before the first hard freeze. This works well for most greens, broccoli, cauliflower, parsley, cilantro and snow peas.
My greens look fairly wan in dead of winter, but perk right up at the barest hint of spring. By then I am very eager for fresh, homegrown greens and welcome the abundant harvesting that lasts through to the first flourishing of my spring plantings.
My winter garden consists of many containers in the basement under lights, and we eat well all winter!
Try growing things indoors in sunny windows with supplemental fluorescent lights.
What are your best tips for getting the timing right when planning and planting a winter garden?
Seed every two weeks in late summer/early fall to find out what timing works best. If a crop fails, try again in late winter when days start to get longer again. Many fail due to low light not cold temps.
Start everything inside.
Getting the hoop house up and anchored before the wicked April winds!
With global warming, our season seems to be extending beyond what we are used to. It is by feel and guess … and by golly.
It’s too cold to winter garden without cover. I only plant garlic in the fall to restart growing in spring.
Since the weather is so inconsistent here in Wisconsin, it is basically listening to the predictions or going with your gut feeling and hoping for the best.
I have to start my late crops in the second half of July for them to get a good start. We’re in the mountains and have a short season with big temperature swings from day to night.
I recommend a high tunnel or greenhouse. Here, 20 miles from Canada, it gets pretty nasty.
Keep yearly records and consult the long-range forecast.
To read more go to the website above.
Tips for Caring for Your Yard This Winter
Don’t ignore your lawn just because it’s cold outside. Many of the things you have to do to have a healthy lawn come spring starts during the winter, when temperatures begin to drop. For example the best season to prune your trees is winter because pruning promotes new growths and production of fruit.
If you failed to winterize your lawn mower in the autumn, it is not too late for a local Lawn Doctor to check it out and get it spruced up in time for the next mowing season.
Keeping your lawn mower functioning properly and the mower blades sharp will ensure that your grass is evenly cut, helping prevent disease and improving the overall look of your yard.
Our collection of Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips are filled with useful recommendations and guidance to help make sure your mower is good to go as spring approaches.
As winter winds down and snow vanishes, snow mold could threaten your yard. This fungus arises in wet, cold weather. The best way to prevent snow mold, is to make sure your lawn is properly fertilized and maintained during the cold weather. Winter lawn fertilization is an important part of keeping your yard healthy through the cold season. Treatments for snow mold involves the use of a special fungicides and seeding strategies.
Lawns and trees may not need as much attention during the wintertime. But even though there may be less need, it is an ideal time to make plans for its care throughout the year. Winter lawn care tips from our experienced professionals can enable you to create a strategy to keep your landscape healthy all year. Contact Lawn Doctor today for a FREE Lawn Evaluation.
During the holiday season, you may find yourself searching for a gift that continues to offer benefits throughout the year. Year-round lawn care will bring joy to your family by producing a spectacular landscape and lawn. Our year-round Lawn Maintainer Care service also gives your family more free time to use as they please. Now that’s a gift.
Winter Yard Care Terminology
Anti-desiccant– Anti-desiccants is a type of foliage spray that works to help trees maintain moisture in colder conditions.
Lawn Aeration– Aerating your lawn refers to removing plugs of soil to eliminate the compaction of the soil to allow for access to nutrients, oxygen and water.
Yard Fertilizer – A type of compound that help facilitate growth by major and micro- nutrients.
Lawn Fertilization – An application that promotes plant and turf growth through proper and periodic use. Lawn Fertilization is a key strategy for preventing snow mold.
Micro-nutrients– Essential nutrients that are plants in small amounts to grow properly.
Power Seeding – Power seeding refers to a technique used to apply seed to a yard by incorporating turning up the soil to achieve the correct seed-to-soil contact. Lawn Doctor’s exclusive Turf Tamer® service equipment is used for easy but effective power seeding.
Pre-emergent weed control – Preventative treatment to stop future weed growth
Reseeding – The use of grass seed to thicken the more thin areas of your lawn.
Snow mold – A fungus type disease caused by a fungus that develops in wet, cold weather. If left untreated it can lead to root rotting under winter snows.
Soil enrichment – Enhancing the quality and health of your soil by the addition of organic supplements and microbes
See our glossary for more detailed looks at winter lawn care terms.
– See more at: http://www.lawndoctor.com/winter_lawn_care_tips/#sthash.EZqDNmLT.dpuf
Trim back your bushes!
Tree Pruning Tips
Fall Gardening Tip of the Day
Leave some leaves
Hooray! You don’t have to rake all the leaves! It’s OK not to rake up leaves under trees and shrubs and on sturdy ground covers (over time they become much-needed compost). However, must-rake leaves are those on perennial beds (they can cause crown rot) and grass lawns (they attract fungi and insects).
Tulip Planting Tips and Techniques
How do trees survive winter?
We all know that many trees lose their leaves for winter, but what else do they do to deal with the cold?
It’s common knowledge that trees become bare during winter, but not many people actually know how they keep themselves alive during the bitter cold. The animals you see during the winter keep moving and eat more food than usual to survive winter, and the ones you don’t see are hibernating. Trees go through a process similar to hibernation called dormancy, and that is what keeps them alive during the winter.
Dormancy is like hibernation in that everything within the plant slows down. Metabolism, energy consumption, growth and so on. The first part of dormancy is when trees lose their leaves. They don’t make food in the winter, so they have no use for masses of leaves that would require energy to maintain. When it’s time for trees to lose their leaves, a chemical called ABA (Abscisic acid) is produced in terminal buds (the part at the tip of the stem that connects to the leaf). The terminal bud is where the leaf breaks off when it falls, so when ABA gathers there, it signals the leaf to break off. (This occurs only in deciduous trees — not in coniferous trees.)
ABA is a chemical that also suspends growth, preventing cells from dividing. This is something that occurs in both deciduous and coniferous trees. Impeded growth is another aspect of dormancy. It saves a lot of energy to stall growth during the winter, and during the winter, the tree isn’t making any new food for energy. It’s similar to hibernation, since most animals who hibernate store food as fat, and then use it to run their essential systems during the winter, rather than grow any more. The tree’s metabolism also slows down during dormancy, and this is part of why cell growth is impeded. Since it has to conserve the food it has stored, it’s best if the tree uses it up slowly and only for essential functions.
It is possible to force a tree to evade dormancy if you keep it inside and with a stable temperature and light pattern. However, this is usually bad for the tree. It’s natural for trees to go through dormancy cycles, and the lifespan of the plant is dramatically increased if the tree is not allowed to go dormant for a few months. Trees have winter dormancy for a reason, and it’s best to just let them run their course as nature intended.
Most flowering plants need to be within three feet of a sunny window.
Most plants require 12 to 16 hours of light per day.
In late fall, water houseplants sparingly until the light begins to increase in the new year.
More houseplants die from overwatering than from anything else.
Water plants with room-temperature water.
Add a few drops of ammonia to one quart of water used for houseplants; it will improve foliage color and increase growth.
Water houseplants in unglazed clay pots frequently.
Frequent mistings under the leaves of houseplants will discourage spider mites.
If your houseplant leaves are dripping, even when you haven’t watered, it’s trying to rid itself of excess water (called “guttation”). This makes a plant vulnerable to disease-causing bacteria, so you’ll want to avoid this problem by reducing the amount of water you’re giving the plant, especially in these winter months. Also, watch those drips because they contain salts, sugars, and other organics that could stain whatever it is they’re dripping on.
Most houseplants are happiest when the relative humidity is 50 percent or higher.
Group houseplants near each other to form a support group to cope with the low humidity of most winter homes.
Fertilize your houseplants frequently to ensure vigorous growth.
In winter, however, feed sparingly; house plants will be sensitive to overfeeding at this time of year.
To get rid of bugs in houseplants, push a clove of garlic into the plant’s soil. If the garlic sprouts and grows, just cut it back.
Spider mites are apt to thrive in warm, dry houses. Frequent misting under the leaves of houseplants will discourage them. A solution of 1 cup flour, ¼ cup buttermilk, and a gallon of cool water, applied in a mist, is a good organic deterrent.
Remove aphids from houseplants with a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water and add a drop of dishwashing detergent. Apply this to troubled plants with a soft brush.
In colder regions, houseplants that have been outside for the summer should be brought in at the end of of July. A sudden cold spell will be too much of a shock for them to survive. This is also a good time to take cuttings.
You can also dig up your rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, English thyme, parsley, and chives to grow them inside as houseplants. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot, and allow the soil to dry out before watering. Snip off the leaves as needed in the kitchen, but do not strip them completely.
Divide and re-pot any pot-bound plants so they will grow well during spring and summer. Prune judiciously to create a compact, attractive specimen.
Provide extra protection to houseplants on window sills if it is very cold. Place cardboard between the plants and the glass. Be sure the plants don’t touch the windowpanes.
As houseplants are growing more slowly in December light, cut down on watering by half until active growth resumes. Hold off on fertilizing as well.
If your plants seem a little worse for the winter, provide lots of sunlight, fresh air, and frequent bathing.
Save the water from cooking pasta. Let it cool, then use it to water houseplants.If the soil of your houseplants get algae, loosen the dirt in your pots periodically.
Open the doors and windows when temperatures permit to give your house a change of air. This will benefit you and your houseplants. Re-invigorate your houseplants by removing the top ¼ inch of soil and top-dressing with fresh potting soil.
8 fall gardening tips
The gardening season is coming to a close, but it’s not entirely over yet. If you’re an avid green thumb, you can still squeeze a little more out of the growing season. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of the end of the year and how to get your garden set up for next year.
Plant Bulbs For Spring Flowers
Fall is the perfect time to plant bulbs like tulips, irises and crocuses, which need a winter freeze to start their growing process. By getting them in the ground now, you will ensure a colorful garden by early spring. For best results, plant bulbs once temperatures are in forties and fifties, but several weeks before the ground completely freezes.
Look for Discounts
Get a jump on next year’s garden by buying gardening equipment, seeds and plants at discounted prices. Many garden centers slash prices in the fall months to move unsold stock. Store seed packets in the freezer to keep them fresh, and keep discount seedlings going indoors until you can replant them next spring.
Repot Overgrown Plants
If a summer’s worth of growth has caused your plants to outgrow their homes, take some time this fall to replant them in larger containers. Dense or compacted soil, poor drainage, or roots creeping out of the bottom of a pot are sure signs that plants are root bound and struggling for more space.
Depending on what region you live in, winter doesn’t have to be a dead season. Some hearty plants like kale, lettuce, broccoli and chard thrive in colder temperatures and can even tolerate the occasional frost. As long as snow stays off the ground and the temperatures don’t dip below freezing for too long, these plants will continue to grow, allowing you to garden into the winter months.
Plant Some Quick Growers
September isn’t too late to grow a final crop. Many vegetables can go from seed to table in as little as four to six weeks, giving you vegetables by late October or early November. Radishes can be grown in around 25 days, and some leafy greens like spinach take as little as 40 days to grow, so get in a final few vegetables before the frost sets in.
Plant Shrubs and Saplings
If you plan on adding trees and shrubs to your yard, fall is the best time to do it. By planting these plants in the fall, you’ll give their roots a chance to get established and avoid the withering effects of the summer sun. You’ll want to plant trees and shrubs in the ground a few weeks before the first frost, and if you live in an area with colder temperatures and heavy snows, wrap their branches and leaves in burlap to protect them from their first winter.
Once your garden has gone to seed and perennial plants have run through their life cycle, it’s time to trim them back. Not only will it clean up an overgrown garden, but it will give the plants more energy next year, and limit potential garden problems like powdery mildew or insect infestations.
Fertilize the Lawn
While it might look like your lawn has shut down for the season, a little lawn care in the fall months will guarantee a lush, green garden next spring. Growth slows above the surface in autumn, but beneath the soil, your lawn is still hard at work establishing strong roots. Help it out this fall with a good mix of phosphorus-rich fertilizer, which helps strengthen roots.
Learn About Composting
Farmers Almanac – Fall Gardening
For more information go to the link above.
Cool Season Vegetables
Cool-Season Vegetables. Many vegetables thrive in cool weather, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, and Swiss chard. Many fall-harvested crops should be planted in early August to give them enough time to mature.
Ideally gardeners should start preparing for fall right around the summer solstice, if not before if you live in an area with a short growing season. In most areas planting should take place from July through August to allow for plenty of time for seeds and plants to grow and mature before the first autumn freeze. Tip from: P. Allen Smith
Jacaranda is a genus of 49 species of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of Central America, South America, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and the Bahamas. It has been planted widely in Asia, especially in Nepal. It is also quite common in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. It has been introduced to most tropical and subtropical regions. The genus name is also used as the common name
Top Tips for Great Fall Gardens Here’s everything you need to know to grow crisp, delicious broccoli, carrots, spinach and more.
Mother Earth News
Favored Crops for Fall
When deciding what to plant now for fall harvest, gardeners throughout most of the country should think greens and root vegetables, advises John Navazio, a plant-breeding and seed specialist at Washington State University and senior scientist for the Organic Seed Alliance in Port Townsend, Wash., which conducts annual tests of crops and varieties to evaluate their cold hardiness.
Leafy greens (such as lettuces, spinach, arugula, chard and mâche) and root veggies (such as beets, carrots, turnips, radishes and rutabagas) as well as brassicas (including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale and Chinese cabbage) and peas will all thrive in the cooler weather and shorter days of fall. In many regions, some of these cold-hardy crops will even survive the winter to produce a second harvest in spring. (See “Stretching the Season,” below.)
If you garden in the South or other areas with mild winters, you can grow all of those crops as well as heat-loving favorites. “Here, we can set out tomato transplants in late August,” says David Pitre, owner of Tecolote Farm, a certified organic farm near Austin, Texas. Pitre also plants okra, eggplant, peppers, winter squash, cucumbers and potatoes in August and September for winter harvest. Plant cool-season crops in the garden after temperatures cool — late September or later
How to Get Rid of Weeds
By Farmers Almanac
Mulch is a covering that blocks daylight and inhibits growth under it. Cover the soil between your plants and along rows. Keep the mulch a few inches from the base of your plants to also discourage insect invasions. For mulch, you can use materials such as wheat straw, shredded leaves, or other organic matter. Layer it on the ground about 2 inches thick.
For persistent or numerous weeds, try covering the area with dampened newspaper (black ink only) and then cover with 2 inches of mulch. Around the bases of trees and shrubs, consider covering the ground with landscape fabric and then mulch.
In some situations, you can use a cover crop to block weeds. See our list of cover crops suitable for growing in various regions of the U.S. and Canada.
For better or worse, you need to manually pull out most weeds. Wear waterproof gloves and consider a comfortable sitting pad for extensive weeding. The trick to pulling weeds is to get the root out as well. Weeds will slide out of the soil easier when the soil is wet—and when the weeds are young. Pull the weed from its base (close to the soil line); if you miss the root, try using a fork to gently pry the plant out of the ground, roots and all.
If your weeds regrow, then you have a persistent root that you need to dig out. Use a spade or digging fork to dig up persistent weeds by the roots. Remove as many root pieces as you can.
While weeding, hold the trowel vertically (like a child holding a crayon) to eliminate strain on your wrist.
If digging out weeds is difficult for you, at least resolve to keep them from setting seed. Chop off their heads once a week!
Minimize Soil Disruption:
Gardeners used to advocate cultivation—stirring the top one or two inches of soil to damage weeds’ roots and tops, causing them to die. However, unless you are able to fully remove the roots from the soil, cultivation seems to simply expose dormant weed seeds to light and air, awakening them. It may be best to preserve the natural soil layers.
Some folks say it helps to turn your soil at night to control weeds. Research indicates that weeds may be stimulated to grow by a sudden flash of light, which is what you give them when you turn the soil over during the day. A German study concluded that by turning the soil at night, weed germination could be reduced by as much as 78 percent. You can try this method by working during a moonlit night, or at dawn or dusk.
Keep the edges of your garden mowed; this will help prevent a weed invasion.
If your soil is rich and well tilled, plant your plants closer together. This will cut down weed growth.
Start your warm weather plants as soon as you can, to keep the soil from being bare for too long. At the end of the season, plant cover crops such as rye grass, winter wheat, or oats to prevent weeds from finding a home in your garden.
Cut Them Off at the Pass:
Encourage weeds to grow before you plant your garden. Lay sheets of clear plastic over your garden in early spring to warm up the soil and encourage weeds to germinate. Once the weeds are several inches above the soil, pull or hoe them out. Then plant your own crops.
Use Drip Irrigation:
If you can irrigate only the plants that need it, you may avoid the cultivation of weeds in unplanted areas, paths, and areas where they are not welcome.
Eat Your Weeds!
Yes, some weeds—lamb’s quarters, amaranth, purslane and others—are edible when young and tender. See our post, “Eating Weeds: Why Not?”
6 Gardening Tips for Hot Weather
These gardening tips will help your plants survive the summer months, any time you’re facing a drought or a long spell of hot weather. Like our other vegan garden tips, they are simple, straightforward and easy to put into practice.
1. Fertilize well.
Helping your plants thrive is often a case of proper planning, placement and soil fertility. A strong plant can better withstand the stress of high heat and dry weather. So fertilize the soil well before planting using organic compost and other sustainable stock-free fertilizers. You can also give your plants a boost with liquid fertilizers (like water soluble seaweed powder) a couple of weeks after planting, or in times of stress.
General tip: While liquid fertilizers are great, it is best not to overuse them. Liquid fertilizers (even organic) feed plants directly instead of supporting the soil food web. The soil food web (simply put) is the network that makes nutrients (already in the soil) available to your plants. It is important to protect and nourish this system with organic matter whenever possible, to ensure long-term soil fertility.
2. Choose perennials, heat resistant crops or plants with an extensive root system.
Many annuals have shallow root systems that dry out easily in the heat of summer. By choosing plants with a hardier root system (biennials (produce for two years), perennials, heat resistant crops, etc.) you’ll start your summer garden off on the right foot.
Pros of heat resistance crops: Less watering = less money spent on water and less work during the heat.
Pros of planting perennials or biennials: You will be investing in the future of your garden instead of planting for one growing season at a time.
Fall Maintenance: End-of-Summer Gardening Tips By Networx
It’s easy to get the gardening bug in springtime, when humans themselves feel like new sprouts finally getting out into the sun (or, for some of us, like vampires emerging from dusky lairs). But as the summer growing season comes to a close and the crowds at the garden centers and farmer’s markets dwindle, we feel resigned to letting it all die and shifting our attention to the fall lineup. This year, don’t let the changing seasons become an excuse to turn back into a vampire (or to watch them on TV). Fall brings plenty of reasons to stay active in the garden, including buying and planting new stuff and gearing up to extend your dirty pursuits into the cold seasons.
Killer Deals on Remainder Plants
Those poor specimens left on the racks at garden centers at the end of summer…a little droopy, a little dry, and surely a little sad, feeling like the forgotten gifts on the Island of Misfit Toys. But just like the square-wheeled train and the spotted elephant, those “aged” plants just need a good home, and they can be rescued for a fraction of what you’d pay for this year’s hottest toys (or healthiest plants).
Late summer is THE time to watch for sales at garden centers. Annuals are fire-saled, not surprisingly, but the real deals are the perennials that will thrive when planted in fall. Expect savings of 50% or more on many plants. And if something looks especially tired, try to negotiate the price down further; retailers know these plants have one last chance at yielding any revenue. Many sales also include garden tools, as the stores have to clear shelf space for winter merchandise.
Good Time for Planting
Flower children know that fall is when you plant many bulbs for spring emergence. It’s also a good time to transplant trees, divide and replant perennials and lay sod or re-seed the lawn. For many plants, late summer and fall are preferable to spring because the ground is warm (good for digging and encouraging root growth) and the sun’s heat is less intense (good for foliage and your water bill). You can even plant a late summer garden for one last crop yield.
When you’re emptying the shelves at your garden center, ask about planting and maintenance for this time of year and through the winter. Most perennials and trees will survive their first winter if their roots take hold before hard freezes set in, while some plantings should be watered periodically through winter, particularly if it’s a dry one. (Keep in mind that new trees do best in the long run if they’re watered regularly for three years, not for just the first season or year like most people commit to.)
Cold Frames and Hot Beds
A cold frame, for those who aren’t familiar, essentially is a mini greenhouse that lets you grow cool crops, such as lettuce, well into fall. Most cold frames are simple DIY affairs constructed with four short walls (or you can dig a hole instead) topped with an old storm window. As such, they’re perhaps one of the original examples of upcycling, back when it was referred to as “using up some of that old crap in the shed.” If you build a cold frame now you’ll get to use it twice before next summer because they’re also handy for starting and hardening plants a little early in spring. Nervous about making your own, or think now would be a nice time to build a garden shed? Call a handyman!
A hot bed is a nice, warm pile of poop. Horse poop, to be precise. You can turn a cold frame into a hot bed by digging down about 2 feet, adding 18 inches of manure — that is, fresh manure — and tamping it well. Top the poop with about 6 inches of sand to fill the hole. As the manure decomposes it creates heat, making the sand a toasty place to set pots and flats for growing plants in fall and even winter. If you’re not the kind of person who relishes a Saturday outing to gather manure, or you’re stuck in a one-horse town, you can create a hot bed with electric soil-heating cable (available online and through garden supply stores).
For fall and every other season, the best sources of gardening information are local gardening and landscape professionals, as well as state and local extension services. These folks know what works best in your climate and can steer you toward local stores and other resources for getting what you need. The most comprehensive extension programs typically are run by state agricultural (“ag”) universities and offer online content and call-in help lines manned by certified Master Gardeners. Many cities have small extension offices and can be great sources for finding cheap mulch and other garden materials, and don’t be afraid to call for help from a landscaper. Whether you’re a resident of Podunk, Illinois or Baltimore, Maryland, landscapers are there for you.
Philip Schmidt writes for Networx.com
National Gardening Association
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