Take care of the vegetables garden during winter

If you've ever wondered what to do with your vegetable patch in winter, this article is definitely worth a read!

Firstly, it’s vital you don’t leave it exposed to the elements. When the earth is bare, it risks being weakened not only by frost and wind-erosion, but also by the runoff of rain. As a result, the earth will be hard to work with by the time spring arrives. Enriching the soil causes it to be boosted by the presence humus and minerals, which in turn encourages the growth of numerous micro-organisms essential in maintaining its ecological equilibrium. Covering the plot ensures those micro-organisms will have the food and shelter they’ll need to survive and thrive through the winter period.

What action should I take to enrich my veg-garden’s soil?

Ashes

Ashes from your hearth or wood-burner will prove a great addition to your vegetable patch. Digging-in ashes increases the presence of potash; a vital element in ensuring the healthy, vigorous growth of your spring plants. The recommended dose is 70g per metre-square, once a year.

hand holding ashes to feed the soil during winter

Green manure

Green manure from clover, phacelia, buckwheat, vetch, rye or white mustard will ‘work’ the soil for you for free throughout the winter, leaving you with a rich, fecund soil by the start of the growing-season.

Seeds should be sown in the autumn, once you’ve stripped the plot of all remaining crops. It can then be left to Mother Nature – the green manure will quickly spread and cover completely the surface of the plot. After the first flowers begin to show – but before any seeds appear – cut the shoots flush and leave nature to get on with its job.

Green manure has several advantages:

  • It participates in the fertilization of the earth by capturing and storing the nitrogen molecules naturally present in both the soil and the ambient air.
  • It smothers any weeds and limits their growth and spread.
  • At the time of flowering, it attracts pollinating insects.
  • During decomposition, it enhances the soil with nutrient-rich humus.
compost made of a mix of rotten fruit and vegetables

Mulching

There are two types of mulching methods. If you’ve been growing crops which have a voracious appetite for nutrients – these include root veg such as carrot, radish, Jerusalem artichokes and celery – your plot will require less maintenance. A simple mulch made from dead leaves will suffice.

On the other hand, plots on which gourmet crops have been grown (squash, cabbage, potatoes, leeks, tomatoes) require reinforced mulching. Mulch should be applied to a depth of between five and 10cm, with the first layer – perhaps cabbage leaves and carrot tops – working to feed the earth. You can then apply a second layer, this time composed of dead leaves. This reinforced mulching technique brings many advantages – it shelters fauna from the cold; it prevents leaching and nutrient loss; and it promotes improved air circulation. The slow, steady decomposition ensures adequate and effective mulching for the duration of the winter, with no further interventions required.

Click here to find out more about mulching!

Related Articles on The expert says
A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Your Own Terrace Garden!

More of a pleasure than a chore, terrace gardening can be highly therapeutic and is a great way to lose yourself and clear your mind of the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Read more
How to get the most from your garden through lockdown

Now the weather’s improving and you’ve got more time on your hands than you know what to do with, seize the day and get to work on the garden!

Read more
5 things to do in the garden during Coronavirus quarantine

It’s a difficult time, one in which we all have to follow the guidelines in order to keep ourselves and others safe: the Coronavirus, which has been spreading pan-globally, has caused restrictions to be placed on our personal space and day-to-day freedom of movement. But for those of us fortunate enough to have a private garden, no matter how big or small, there’s still the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in total safety!

Read more
Gardening: the ultimate workout!

Gardening is a great workout for the whole body, which is excellent news if the thought of daily gym sessions and frequent pavement-pounding doesn’t appeal.

Read more
March: Time for scarification

Finally, March has arrived! Despite the inevitably inclement weather, there’s a part of the psyche of the British gardener that tells us instinctively it’s time to get to work! There might not be a huge amount to do, but this period is the time to prepare your lawn in order to help it thrive through the growing-season. Take steps early, and in a few months, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour!

Read more
See your garden blossom by taking action in January!

In midwinter there’s not much for gardeners to do in their horticultural kingdom. However, if you like the idea of exercising your green fingers during the fallow period, there are jobs to be getting on with.

Read more
Protect your favourite plants from cold and snow

Whether they’re pot-plants, flowerbed roses or evergreens, you can protect your favourite plants from the harsh winter conditions by following these simple instructions.

Read more
Share on Facebook Share on Linkedin