Spring will come soon enough, and the milder weather will either welcome you to work vigorously in outdoor gardening activities or harass you with the chores that seem to suddenly need to be done. You can make it more welcoming by enjoying some activities to prepare for spring now. Take advantage of the slower pace of winter this time of year by spending some relaxing time doing some or all of the following (underlined text in this article is a link):
- Put up bubble wrap in the greenhouse windows, if you haven’t already. It will make the greenhouse cozier for seed starting and lower your heating costs.
- Clean the greenhouse. It will be much easier to plant seeds and care for seedlings if you aren’t tripping over odds and ends that have collected from closing up shop in the fall or doing other projects in that “extra heated work room.” And you can do spider combat in full gear.
- Organize seeds. Figure out what you might not need to buy more of or what is really too old and you have been hanging on to for too long
- Do some germination testing. If you have any doubts about the viability of seeds, it is worth your time and effort.
- Inventory and clean your tools. Even if you haven’t really done it in 20 years. Yes, that is me talking to myself. Think about what really got used last year, what needs repair, and what you want for your birthday… (my birthday is perfect for a gardener, being in April)
- Research and interview potential hired help for yard and garden clean-up, tree pruning, and trips to the dump. Good time of year for trips to the dump. Less aromatic. Some yard work might even be able to be done sooner than you think. You never know when the snow might melt for a while and some debris and be dealt with, like Ben of Creative Yardscapes did for me the third week of January.
- Begin to gather seed starting supplies, i.e. soil, labels, heating coils, misting nozzles.
- Make a priority list of potential projects and their budgets. See # 6 for help on that, With Ben’s help, I will be focusing on turning a small space off of the living room into an outdoor eating area.
- Sketch out a planting schedule. Here is my basic schedule through June. Google calendar would be good for this, because you can set up reminders, as many as you like!
- Plot the planting of what will go where. Doing this ahead of time makes planting much more relaxing.
- Research subjects you still need to learn about, like spraying fruit trees, dealing with aphids on the honeysuckle vine, why my strawberry plants keep dying.
- Review pruning techniques for roses, grapes, and decorative vines. I have used Pruning Made Easy: A Gardener’s Visual Guide to When and How to Prune Everything, from Flowers to Trees (Storey’s Gardening Skills Illustrated Series) for the last few years.
- Evaluate pantry contents to help make decisions about how much to plant THIS year.
- Make long lasting plant, or row, signs. I get tired of my smaller labeling stakes getting covered up by plant foliage. Certainly, there comes a point at which you can tell basically what is there because it is recognizable, however the signs would be decorative and have a place to record variety and planting date. I am intrigued by some sign posts my daughter made for an art project this fall.
- Plant greenhouse crops. By this I mean things that can be grown completely in the greenhouse, like lettuce. Lettuce is rewarding because it is ready comparatively soon. I know some local nurseries are already planting the seeds for their plants that they will be selling, but in my experience, it is just a bit too soon for what my smaller greenhouse can accommodate.
- Check functioning of greenhouse lights. It is frustrating to have newly sprouted seedlings and be lacking adequate light for their healthy growth. You might also like this article giving tips about choosing greenhouse lights.
- Continue to exercise so that when it comes time to be out in the garden, you can do it with fewer sore muscles and more stamina.
- Get a suntan to avoid burning yourself in the first warm sunny days of spring. The last few years I have taken to spending some time at the local tanning salon in late winter. Besides being warm and relaxing, I have little or no trouble with burning in the spring and summer with this head start.
There you have some very rewarding options for whiling away the winter hours when the weather is not conducive to being outside. You will thank yourself later.