6 Winter Gardening Tips To Stay Green and Happy All Year
GArdening is a classic hobby for a very simple reason: it makes people feel good. Whether you got into it during the pandemic (along with a host of other people) or you are a lifelong gardener, it is clear that the feel-good benefits of working with plants are extensive. This claim is also supported by data; According to a recent Home Advisor survey of 1,000 gardeners, four in five say gardening gives them a daily mood boost, and nearly three-quarters think the activity is good for their physical health. In addition, a study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning found that gardening can have similar happiness effects as exercise.
Of course, when the weather gets cooler it can be more difficult to satisfy green thumb ambitions. But that is no reason to put your happiness-increasing ambitions in bed only in warmer times. Experts say gardening doesn’t have to stop in winter and have tips to make it happen. “During the winter, you can extend your gardening season outdoors or grow indoors,” said William James Lamont Jr., PhD, professor emeritus in the Department of Plant Science at Pennsylvania State University. “In colonial times, people harvested root crops and survived with them in winter,” he emphasizes. “You can grow these ‘survival vegetables’ outside and garden inside.”
However, gardening can be more difficult in winter than in the warmer months – especially if you are new to gardening. Fortunately, gardening experts have tips to help you achieve your conservatory goals successfully.
Horticultural experts share 6 conservatory tips to keep things growing and happy year round.
1. Choose the right plants
You can technically plant anything you want in winter, but unless you live in a place with the right conditions, it probably won’t last long. Keeping an outdoor garden in the winter can focus on the right plants, “depends on where you live,” says Pamela J. Bennett, associate professor and state masters horticultural program director at Ohio State University . If you live in a warmer southern state, you can probably easily grow plants like winter pansies and kale, she says. You can even grow these plants in the middle of the country, as long as temperatures don’t get too low, she says. “But the further north you go, the more difficult it can be to grow certain crops.” Lamont suggests planting sturdy plants like kale, spinach, cabbage, carrots, and onions with the right tools (more on that in a moment).
Indoor gardens are a little more flexible to the elements as long as you – once again – have the right conditions, says S. Cory Tanner, team leader of the horticultural program at Clemson Extension. “There are a few plants that are proven winners,” he says. These include snake plants and ZZ plants, which in his opinion are “hard as nails” and are “very suitable for indoor horticulture”.
Still, says Bennett, “you can grow all kinds of plants indoors with the right setup.” She says succulents, orchids, begonias, terrarium plants, and bromeliads are great options. “You can also plant vegetable seeds, grow herbs and green sprouts, and even extend the life of some annual bedding plants like geraniums,” she says.
2. Try to protect plants outdoors
It’s not a requirement, but it can definitely help. Dr. Lamont suggests creating plastic tunnels or row covers to cover your plants. (You can find them online or at many gardening stores.) These tunnels “protect your plants and allow you to harvest them all winter,” he adds, even when the weather outside is not optimal.
3. Make sure there is plenty of light
Tanner says the lack of light is “one of the biggest mistakes I see in indoor gardening”. Houseplants, like other plants, need a lot of light, he points out, pointing out that some houses have better lighting than others. A pro tip, according to Tanner: “South-facing windows provide more light than north-facing ones.” If natural light is scarce in your location, you can invest in plant-specific lighting to illuminate your plants, says Bennett.
4. Don’t forget to water your plants
It’s easy to assume that the water would be too much water for the plants if it’s cold outside, but Bennett says it is still crucial. “If the soil stays dry, the roots won’t be established,” she says. Her advice if you are worried about freezing: mulch your plants when it gets chilly. This will help push the roots out of the ground and keep them from freezing.
5. But be careful of overhydration
So … how often should you water your plants? Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule here. “To the dismay of novice gardeners, there is no set schedule,” said Mira Talabac, horticultural consultant at the University of Maryland Extension. “The answer is just, ‘When it’s dry enough to need watering.'” This can depend on a number of factors, such as the type of potting soil used, how warm and humid it is, how much light there is, the type of pot you use and the airflow around your plant, she says.
One hack many gardeners use is to feel the soil at least an inch below the surface of the pot, Talabac says. “If the plant is dry, it may need water; if it’s damp, it probably won’t, ”she advises. It’s best to “soak the soil” so that excess water flows out of the pot’s bottom holes, Talabac says. However, if you use a saucer underneath, she recommends emptying it immediately so that the plant is not in the water. Otherwise, she says, “it will be so absorbed that it drowns the roots.”
6. Keep an eye on the humidity
Homes have low humidity in winter when people have indoor heating, says Tanner. “It can be stressful for certain houseplants,” he adds. You can increase the humidity around your plant by spraying it daily or by placing your plant over a saucer with stones and filling the saucer with water to ensure moisture around the plant immediately. Still, says Talabac, “the most effective way to increase the humidity is to use a room humidifier”. You can place it near your plant to maximize moisture around it.
If you are ready to garden in the winter but still not sure if you can do it, don’t hesitate to ask questions at your local gardening store. They are usually staffed by experts who can offer you personal advice.
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