Winter is a time to rest, but there are still a few things you can do in your veggie patch to make sure the produce doesn’t slow down too much too.
Clean up around the garden by removing dead or diseased growth. Collect leaves for your compost and sharpen your blades for some pruning. We prune our fruit trees in winter to continue to get a quality crop on a manageable tree size. When pruning cut branches that are competing against each other, open up the framework and don’t forget the safety glasses. Also note to self, don’t prune when you are in a bad mood and take off too many branches. (Speaking from experience don’t take it out on the tree or else the tree will take it out on you and give you no Golden Delicious Apples!…ask my 6 year old who has declared her love for them)
Other things to get your deciduous fruit trees through the winter.
- Apply well- rotted manure and compost to the base of the tree
- Any plants in pots move them closer to the house to protect from frost. If you have a young plant in the ground place some shade cloth over it using stakes to protect it from frost.
- Mulch – keeps the ground warm and toasty for those veggies
- Start thinking about what your aspirations are for your garden for spring. What do you like to eat? What fruit trees are drought tolerant? Do you need fence an area off, maybe think about espaliered fruit? Write down what you want from your garden and start planning. One of the permaculture principles is zones and sectors. Zone planning in permaculture design means placing elements according to how often we need to visit them. Areas that need to be visited every day (e.g. the glasshouse, chicken pen, herb garden) are located nearby, while places visited less frequently (grazing area, orchard, woodlot) are located further away. By placing this zones in your design makes your home more energy efficient.
- Now is the best time to plant bare rooted fruit trees as it gives them plenty of time to get established before the hot summer. If you don’t know where you are going to plant them make sure you don’t let roots dry out and keep them moist and covered with soil. Don’t keep them out of the ground for too long – mid August is a reliable deadline.
- The shortest day in June is usually the time to make sure all your veggie crops are in. My husband came up with a brilliant idea this year to create mini greenhouses by recycling water bottles for office water coolers. You simply cut off the bottom and place it on top of a pot. It’s working a treat for our broad beans, broccoli, kale, onions and spinach. They’ll grow there before I transport them into the patch.