Monthly Book Giveaway - February 2023

Gardening #2: Preparing the garden for spring


This is part 2 in a 16 part series: Gardening

Prepping for the spring garden begins in the fall. 

Your garden soil has served you well all season and now it needs time for it to rest and to rejuvenate and we can help it with both. 

First, let’s not disturb it too much and disrupt the microbiome that is helping to keep the soil rich and healthy. 

Next, let’s provide it with some nutrients. Yes, we can add fertilizers, but we can also add natural materials that break down over the winter and nourish the soils just like what happens in the forests and swamps. 

Third, we can give it a nice cozy blanket to curl up in via a cover crop. 

Cover Crops

  • Sow some seeds, densely, not for harvesting but for the benefits that their root systems will bring:
  • Help prevent erosion and the “dust effect” (check out the movie I talked about in the forums here)
  • Help build microbiome 
  • Prevent compaction of the soil from rain and snow
  • Help with water availability in the soil
  • Help suppress weed growth 
  • Add nutrients: The plants will store nutrients until they return to the soil at the end of their duration 

Note: a tip from my brother, who works in the agriculture world, be careful not to choose a crop that will be as hard to get rid of as the weeds you are trying to block out. 

What plants are good cover crops? 

Choosing your cover crop depends on your soil, what has been in the garden and what will be planted next season. 

Some typical options are: 
  • Clover
  • Ryegrass
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Mustard 

When to plant a cover crop?

Remembering that you aren’t planting for a harvest, but rather for the roots to take hold and the plant to be gathering nutrients, you want to give the plant time to mature. Planting at the end of summer will give most plants enough time to be set before the cold weather ends the growth. 

Fall is also time to plant certain perennials and crops for spring: 

What to plant?

  • Garlic
  • Spring flower bulbs  (ex daffodils)
  • Perennial seeds that need the cold weather to grow

Check information for your region for other options. Here in Canada, our winters can be harsh and it can seem very limiting. You might be surprised at what can survive in your region. 

Cold frames / season extenders 
Cold frames - protect the fall crops that you planted at the end of summer, such as carrots and parsnips. Make sure they have what they need to keep warm and to allow you to harvest through the winter months. 

If you aren’t using them this fall but want to use them in the spring, now is a good time to get them set up so that you don’t have to brave the cold to do the major part of the prepping. Plan ahead. 

What’s next?

For many of us, winter is a time of fixing and mending; it is a time of planning and ordering seeds for next year; and it is a time for personal care, taking the time to rest and rejuvenate, just like our gardens. 

Nature knows: seasonal cycles are beneficial to the health and wellness of the gardens and, thus, for us as well. 

For me, winter is my time to create through my crocheting craft. I like to make functional items, such as Afghans, but my greatest joy comes from my Amigurumi dolls. They make me laugh. 

What do you do in the winter months?

a simpler life