“Do you want to build a snowman?” was probably the most popular question this year, thanks to the success of Disney’s Frozen. However, Mother Nature is keeping the snow at bay this winter so many children are spending their days off of school, only dreaming of a winter wonderland. Instead of wishing to build a snowman, suggest that they build something different, like a winter garden.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to plant and grow many seeds during the winter – unless you live in the North Pole. In fact, a lot of plants, including vegetables and winter flowers, thrive in the cold conditions. To help you get started, here’s IKO Community Management’s guide to building a winter garden:
- Find a small patch of south-facing land that is protected from the wind, such as the side of your home or underneath the deck. It’ll keep the garden warm when the temperatures drop.
Pro Tip: If you cannot find a shaded spot by your home, surround your garden with a makeshift barrier by using hay bales, a trellis, cold frames or hoop houses. This will help protect your plants from harsh winds and snowfall.
- Clean up the leaves around the area and mow the lawn before getting started. This will provide a nice base for your winter garden and keep pests away.
- Determine what type of garden you want to plant, identified through which plants you’d like to grow. Some common winter florals include chrysanthemums, asters and pansies. If you’re more interested in a vegetable garden, choose cabbage, carrots, onions, lettuce, potatoes, spinach, kale or broccoli seeds. You can even choose a combination of the two types for beautification and functionality.
- Use stakes and a pencil (or a few rulers) to mark where each plant is going to go. Typically, plants should be about 6 to 8 inches away from each other, so consider the direction each plant tends to grow before you begin digging. This will help ensure that the leaves won’t tangle aboveground and the roots won’t intertwine below the dirt.
- Using a small shovel or your gloved hand, dig a hole about 6 inches into the ground.
Pro Tip: It’s best to start digging before the first hard frost of the year, so get outside as soon as possible.
- Drop the seeds into each hole then use the excess dirt to cover the hole entirely.
- Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the entire area to fertilize the garden, conserve natural rainwater (which can be hard to come by during the winter) and keep the soil warm on frigid days.
Pro Tip: If you don’t want to buy a bag of mulch, you can use peat moss, bark, sawdust or shredded newspaper for the same results.
- Water the plants thoroughly then continue watering them as frequently as you would during the spring or summer. Also check the soil moisture often because plants in dry soil will not survive as long as those in moist soil.
Tending to a garden during the winter sounds crazy because the sun’s not shining and the birds aren’t chirping, but it’s possible to build a winter garden that will flourish like its summer counterpart. Gardens also teach kids responsibility, and can improve their time management skills. Plus, you’ll get some nice organic grub out of this project, which can save you a lot of money on the grocery bill. Forget building the snowman, build a winter garden.
From all of us at IKO Community Management, happy gardening!