Well it’s been a few weeks of winter now and so far we have had an easy time of it. I am speaking of the gardening end of it, of course. There have been enough clear days to get some big chores done around the garden, things that aren’t so easy to do during the growing season.
I started a “winter chores” list about 15 years ago. I have completed 4 out of 48 of the tasks on that list.
Weather seems to be the main factor that governs how much gets done in the garden over the winter. If it’s below freezing for more than four days straight, the energy needed to get the job done wanes. By its very nature gardening is out-of-doors and weather governs most of the activity that surrounds gardening.
When it isn’t cold enough to stop a brass monkey from proliferating, chances are it will be raining. Some work can happen in the rain but, really? I like to keep gardening a happy place, something to look forward to. Working in extreme weather puts a damper on things and you stop looking forward to getting out there.
One thing on my list was putting in a water supply to the further reaches of the yard. Plans for shifting the vegetable garden over to make room for a lane around the greenhouse were being mulled over. It was decided that a trench could be dug and a water line laid to service both the greenhouse and veggie beds. This could be done at the same time as the lane way. Voila! A winter chore accomplished.
The following winter the line was extended when we dug a trench to the top of a knoll in the back, about 100 yards from the house. We buried a water line that now services about an acre of trees, shrubs, perennials and re-seeding annuals. Before that line went in I would load up large buckets with water and haul it up there in a garden wagon. It was a chore I put off too long sometimes because it was so difficult to get up to the back fence without spilling half the water. I now have hose coiled up by the standing pipe at the summit which can be connected to lengths of soaker hoses laid out along flower beds and borders, around trees through out the garden.
Next column I will try to cover some of the other garden projects I have on my “winter chores” list. Projects like: sorting out poor drainage in low areas; pruning, another good example; checking and repairing the perimeter fencing; cleaning and storage of planters; don’t forget cleaning out the gutters; lime/sulphur application for eco-friendly disease and insect control; and, oh my goodness, there are still at least 40 things on that list.
I will stick to the ones that we still have time to do before we swing into the spring chores. If you have some jobs in the garden you’d like to tackle this winter, now is a good time to start as most things haven’t budded up yet, so will be oblivious to what’s going on around them.
Heather Mary Brown is a seasoned North Island gardener. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org