What to do in the garden in winter in January and February?

In winter, the weather and the ambient temperature do not necessarily prompt us to think about planting. However, several actions can be carried out in the garden to help prepare for the coming season. The opportunity to take out your winter clothes and get a breath of fresh air beneficial for health !!

Harvesting winter vegetables

If you have been conscientious in your late summer and fall sowing and planting, it is likely that you have several varieties of winter vegetables to harvest in your vegetable garden. This is particularly the case:

  • Leeks
  • Certain varieties of salads (mash, garden cress, curly salad, winter lettuce, curly chicory or escarole chicory)
  • Spinach (notably “Géant d’Hiver” or “Monstroeux de Viroflay”) and chard
  • Broccoli
  • Certain cabbages such as Brussels sprouts or headed cabbages (but also Cabus cabbages and Kale cabbages)
  • Certain varieties of carrots
  • But also less common root vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes, salsify or even parsnips

Of course depending on your climate, the list may vary or some varieties may be better suited than others.

With the current cold snap, it may be helpful to harvest some winter vegetables more sensitive to frost. It's the case spinach, chard and certain salads. The opportunity to cook them to preserve them better. In fact, stored in a refrigerator they will keep for a few days at best. In soup form, they can be frozen and consumed for several months.

Protecting plants and soils against frost

The start of winter having been quite mild this year, it is possible that you have not yet taken the time to protect your plants and soil ! If your vegetable garden is “left bare” during the winter season, it will be more susceptible to heavy rain and frost. On the other hand, you will not benefit from fertilizing benefits of certain mulches. There is still time to put in place protection for your floor. Indeed, even if it will perhaps no longer have time to decompose by your next plantings, it will have the merit of protecting your land and can be removed manually if necessary in the spring.

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Mulching can be done in many ways and with various materials, for example:

  • Using a thick layer of manure, which will help to fertilize your soil
  • When covering the ground with dead leaves, you still need to have some on hand, and in January/February this will not necessarily be the case if you have not planned them in advance, but think about it for next year.
  • By spreading BRF (Fragmented Raméal Wood), they are in fact small pieces of wood and plants which cover the ground and which fertilize it as they decompose.
  • By simply using straw, or better hay. Or even wood shavings, hemp, flax mulch, etc.

You will have understood, the possibilities are numerous and the right solution will depend on the surface to be mulched and its use.

Here, the hay will protect and nourish the small fruit bushes planted last spring.

Plants that spend the winter outside also need to be protected. If they are potted plants that you can move, choose a location little exposed to wind will allow them to spend the winter more peacefully. In very cold weather, you can also protect your pots using straw, bubble wrap, and your plants using a winter veil. Protecting the pots will prevent them from bursting due to frost. Tip: remember to remove the saucers from under your pots during frost periods !!

For shrubs and plants in the ground, mulching the soil at the base of the plant helps to partially protect it from frost. The most fragile species may also require the use of a winter cover. To learn more about techniques for protecting your plants, do not hesitate to take a look at the following video:

The size of certain plants

Your plants provided fruits and flowers throughout the spring, summer and even fall. In winter, it's time for them to rest... But if you want to find them even more beautiful in a few months, She's going to need a little maintenance. !! Firstly, if you have not already done so, you can remove dead flowers and leaves, broken branches, etc.

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Some perennial plants will completely disappear in winter, only to grow back better in spring. This is the case for certain aromatics such as mint or lemon balm, edible plants such as rhubarb, or even ornamental plants. For these plants, if all the foliage has not gone away on its own and it is worn and unattractive you can simply “cut it close” and let the plant take care of the rest. Tip: In the case of rhubarb, after clearing away the damaged leaves, it is possible to spread a thick layer of ash above the space previously occupied by the plant. In spring, it should grow back even more thanks to this fertilizer!

Ashes spread as fertilizer on the site of rhubarb plants.

Other plants will need pruning. Either to give them a more suitable shape or size, either to promote flowering and subsequent fruiting. In January/February, it's time to prune:

  • Rose bushes to boost flowering. Take the opportunity to remove dead stems to improve their aesthetics.
  • Small fruit trees, in particular
    • Gooseberries
    • The cashiers
    • Raspberries
  • Pome fruit trees such as
    • apple trees
    • pear trees
    • The Cherry trees
  • Flowering shrubs:
    • Lilac
    • Some hydrangeas
    • Evergreen Magnolias
  • Certain climbing plants
    • Vigne
    • Clematis
    • Climbing roses

Please note, for certain plants, pruning is carried out in autumn rather than winter.. This is for example the case of stone fruit trees (peach trees, apricot trees, plum trees, etc.) or even deciduous magnolias (i.e. those whose leaves fall in winter). Some plants may also benefit from two sizes. A first in autumn to eliminate the most damaged parts, and a second in winter to encourage spring growth.

Winter is also the recommended season for to plant trees, less fragile when overwintering.

Maintaining equipment and carrying out additional developments

Finally, it is also the time to put your equipment in order, and to undertake some work in your garden. Why not take advantage of the season, which is particularly wet this year, to install one or more new rainwater collectors? It is during the winter season that the tanks fill up best!!

Cleaning, repairing, and replacing your damaged tools will also allow you to start the next season on the right foot. Finally, you can now start thinking:

  • What you are going to plant
  • The way you are going to arrange your vegetable garden
  • The best places to buy your seeds

For further…

You are now ready to take care of your garden for the next two months!! However, some of you may have made it this far without yet having the chance to own their own land. If this is your case, it may not be inevitable. In fact, there are steps you can take to find a place to garden, and it might be a good idea to do it now!

To find out more about the possibilities available to you, do not hesitate to consult our previous article focused on solutions to finding the perfect place to start gardening or do not hesitate to visit the forum gardening.

3 comments on “What to do in the garden in winter in January and February?”

    1. Hello Michel,

      As for the ash above the Rhubarb plants, this is a first for me, however the advice was given to me by more experienced gardeners with whom I have the chance to exchange having a small plot in a plot of communal rental gardens.

      In principle you are right, ash should be used very sparingly, as this video explains in detail for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKROYZuiZKk&t=311s

      But Rhubarb is a plant that appreciates the potash which is precisely found in wood ash. This is why it also grows very well in former compost sites. In principle, it's a bit of an exception that proves the rule when it comes to ashes (verdict in the spring for my part).

      On the other hand, if it is located too close to other plantations, you must ensure that the ash does not spread elsewhere in the vegetable garden (especially in windy weather), which would be harmful to the other vegetables.

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