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Garden Management In Winter

Beginning gardeners may think that once the snow comes, growing season is over; but that is simply not true. In fact, the winter season is when growers need to be creative on how they protect their gardens from frost damage and nosy wildlife. Here are a few things to keep in-mind as we begin gardening in winter. 

Winter Garden Maintenance

There are many plants to grow outside in the winter that can be used as side dishes or salads including onions; garlic; asparagus; peas and leafy greens like spinach.

Growing these winter crops can ensure that cooks have a healthy supply of fresh vegetables directly from the garden. However, gardeners cannot simply plant these veggies and walk away. They will need to prepare the soil for chilly weather conditions and snow. Gardeners may need to bring plants inside for indoor growing; move plants to a cold frame; or place blankets around growing areas to insulate them. 

Soil will need to be treated and prepared with organic matter after avoiding old mulch.

Homeowners may need to prune back perennials, such as roses, and other types of plants to avoid plant diseases, as well. Grape growing, for example, can begin in the late spring; but pre-existing grape vines will need to be pruned back to protect the buds from diseases. Trees baring fruit should also be trimmed back to protect the buds from cold damage. This action helps maintain the plants in the winter and get them ready to thrive in spring. 

Deer Movement

Deer are desperate for food and will walk long and far to find anything to eat. (As you can imagine, natural resources are slim-pickings in the wintertime.) This is bad news for gardeners as they prepare gardens for the winter growing season. 

However, the news gets worse for deer.

It's hunting season; and our white-tailed friends need to avoid deer hunters as to not become deer meat. To accomplish this, deer will not only move away from woods; but they will do so in the early morning and evening hours to avoid chilling wind gusts and to get first dibs on whatever is left from home gardens. This action will also leave them undetected by homeowners (high five for deer).

And, deer are not the only wild animals that homeowners need to worry about. In fact, homeowners will see just as many coyotes on landscapes as bucks and does. Teenage coyotes leave their parents in December to fend for themselves and scout for their own food. Then, January is coyote breeding season, leading to an influx of coyotes on lawns.

Ugh.

To protect plants from hungry deer and other wild animals, gardeners will need to act on deer management strategies such as fence installation. Having a deer fence around gardens is critical in winter as gardeners prepare for spring planting (prime season for deer damage in gardens). Once spring comes, home growers can plant flowers for deer-resistance as a secondary layer of protection around a deer fence

Do More In Winter; Less In Spring

If homeowners act now to control deer populations, then they will see a reduction of deer herds on landscapes moving into spring. The best method for deer management is deer fencing (7.5 to 8' feet high), a tried and proven technique. Coyote management is a must in winter as we will see more coyotes on properties. Using a 6' foot high metal fence in PVC-coating will protect the fence from chew marks made by coyotes and will block jumping attempts by animals.