Picture this: It’s late December, you’ve got a yard full of snow and it’s dark out before the evening news comes on. Yet, your salad bowl is brimming with fresh carrots and spinach from the garden.
Winter gardening is an advanced technique for serious gardeners who don’t want to give up their hobby when the snow falls. It’s possible to grow plants indoors using lamps during the winter, but we’re going to focus on outdoor set ups so that gardeners can take advantage of all the great benefits our mulch offers.
We recommend installing low tunnels, which are simple hoops that hold up a plastic barrier over garden rows to act as small greenhouses for the outdoor plants. This not only keeps the snow off the plants, but it keeps the dry winter winds out. You can put these structures right over in-the-ground rows or combine them with raised garden beds.
Believe it or not, the cold will not be the biggest obstacle for your winter garden to overcome. The real issue you will have to watch out for is desiccation, or moisture loss. Winter desiccation comes from the combination of the cold temperatures, the low soil moisture and the wind. The low tunnels will block the wind, but good old fashion bark mulch will help fight the problem by trapping moisture around the plants.
Winter gardening is a vast and complex subject and there are already a number of excellent guides to reference if someone wants to get started. The first step is decide what plants you are going to grow from a list of winter crops and then make any special preparations based on where you live. Happy gardening!