A Guide to Planting a Winter Garden for Food And Beauty

In the winter, it’s easy to fall into a bout of depression when the air is cold, the ground is frozen, the trees are bare and all of the beautiful flowers have died. However, if you plan your garden plants just right, you can extend the spring and summer prosperity into winter and enjoy year-round blossoms without making a trip to the florist. A gardening expert may recommend winter-blooming camellia blossoms, crimson poinsettias, stunning hellebores and aloha roses, or late-winter crocuses. Often people discover what works best in their regions with a little trial and error, but these are some hardier varieties to try out.

During the winter, you may want to add late growing plants to the mix. You can plant ornamental cabbages that come in stunning foliage colors such as yellow, lilac, deep purple, white and pink. This heath is the hardiest winter flower, as it’s able to withstand temperatures as low as -25.

If this is your second year of producing garden plants, then it’s important that you plant your winter vegetable crops in a different location than last year. Planting in the same spot every year weakens the soil, loses nutrients and attracts insects or disease. A gardening expert may also recommend that you use cover crops to build up damaged or idle soil. By planting fast-growing greens, you can spade, plow or till them into the soil for added green organic matter and nutrients. In the fall, you can sow alfalfa, Austrian field peas, white clover, crimson clover, red clover, purple vetch, hairy vetch, woolly vetch, common vetch, fava beans, wheat, oats, cereal rye, winter rape, and lupines. If you’d like to cover in the winter, try cow-peas (Southern peas), hairy indigo, bell beans (a small fava bean) Lana vetch, winter peas, lupines, and purple clover.

There are several tactics to help your garden plants withstand colder temperatures and extend your growing season. If there are sudden freezes, extremely cold weather or if you’re dealing with young plants, then you may need to cover your new shrubs with a burlap sack or an old sheet. It’s best to avoid direct contact between the fabric and the foliage, so add taller stakes to your garden supplies list, as these stakes will hold the cover up and away from the delicate leaves.

If you’re really into home vegetable gardening, then you may want to build a permanent greenhouse. You can grow leaf and root vegetables without heat, or — if you’d like — you may grow tropical plants, tomatoes and cucumbers in a heated greenhouse even if it’s cold as Alaska outside!

Many people are saving money during the recession by growing their own edible foods, while also improving their moods with fresh cut flowers on the table all year round. Flowers in a winter garden can add a dash of fragrance and a splash of color to your yard.

Everyone wants their property to look its best and one of the ways to do that is to enhance your landscaping. For some great suggestions on lawns, gardens and even outdoor garden lighting, visit our landscape ideas site.

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