If you’ve managed to struggle out of your cocoon of blankets, you may have noticed that everything you painstakingly planted and kept alive for months has started to die.
Relax. It’s not a reflection on your gardening ability, some plants are just not suited to year-round temperatures so struggle to get through wintery weather. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to bring back the greenery.
Spring clean … in winter
Whether your plants have suffered from disease or have simply shivered all their leaves off, it’s time to clean things up a bit.
Remove any weeds and dead or dying plants completely. If you’ve been using garden stakes and trellises to help keep some of your vegetables up right, take them out of the garden. Give them a clean with a (very) diluted water and bleach mixture, allowing them to dry completely before returning them to the soil.
Talk to your local nursery
Some plants, such as strawberries, snow peas, onion and lettuce, are better suited to lower temperatures. However, their ability to flourish will depend on your local area’s climate. An expert at your local nursery will be able to provide some guidance for the best plants to use.
Take a test
Testing the pH level of the soil will help you figure out if you need to take action before planting anything new. Most plants grow best with a slightly acidic to neutral pH level – around 6.0 to 7.0. Read up on the plants you’ve chosen, and check to see if they need a more acidic or alkaline environment to thrive.
If you’re a novice gardener balking at the idea of running a test like this, don’t worry – you can pick up an easy and inexpensive soil pH test kit from your local hardware or gardening store. Most tests will come with simple-to-read graphs to tell you what the problem is and how to fix it.
Trust your mulch
Plants that thrive in winter will usually do so because they prefer having their roots kept cool and moist. Putting mulch on your garden will help with this, protecting some of the more delicate plants from rain and wind while ensuring their roots retain their optimum conditions.
Keep an eye on it
As it gets colder, it also gets more tempting to stay inside all day. If you overestimate the amount of care you’ll be able to give your plants, you may end up right back where you started.
Ensure you know what your winter plants require, from watering to pruning, and don’t try to plant something you won’t be able to maintain.