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Suggestions For Colorado Gardeners


Winter Gardening Tips and Tricks

Dana Bossert

Coming from a hard-working Midwestern family, I've grown up with a strong work ethic and strong family values...

Coming from a hard-working Midwestern family, I've grown up with a strong work ethic and strong family values...

Oct 21 6 minutes read

The deeply cold weather and heavy snows of Colorado don't exactly evoke the idea of gardening to most people. It's a shame because winter can actually be a highly productive season for savvy gardeners. There is an assortment of worthwhile projects perfect for those with green thumbs that just can't wait for spring to keep them busy. With the right materials, knowledge, and proper planning, it's more than possible to raise strong and healthy plants wherever you are in the Centennial State.

Tips For Winter Gardening

Living in Colorado, our seasons are much more variable than in other places. It isn't uncommon for temperatures to reach far below zero during the coldest months. You might think this leaves little to no chance of growing anything, but that's actually not the case. Even in the most frigid temperatures, it is possible to grow strong and healthy plants. The right soil, protection, and selection of cold-weather vegetables can be used to create a thriving and exceptional winter garden.

Remember To Keep Your Plants Watered

Even in winter, your plants need plenty of water in order to thrive. It's commonly misunderstood that snow can provide enough water to keep plants healthy, but this is sadly not the case. Unlike rainwater, snow will remain frozen above the soil until it thaws. Be sure to water your plants regularly in unfrozen soil so they can easily acquire as much as they need.

Know Your Cold-Weather Plants

It's true that most plants prefer warmth and sunshine over cold winds and clouds, but there are exceptions. Root vegetables, shrubs, herbs, and even certain flowers do well in the cold when treated with care. Some desert plants such as agave, for example, do just as well in the bitter cold as they do in the blazing heat. With a little research, there are actually quite a few options available when it comes to deciding what you want to grow.

  • Root Vegetables - Carrots, turnips, beets, and other root vegetables are a great choice for winter gardening. Not only are they superbly healthy, but they're also quite simple to look after and resilient to most kinds of weather.
  • Cabbages & Greens - Kale, collard greens, spinach, and many kinds of cabbages can also be cold-weather resistant. These plants can also be quite nutritious, and they can add an appealing shade of green to enhance the landscape.
  • Onion Family - Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives do well enough in cold temperature as long as they're properly looked after. Similarly to root vegetables, they can live healthily in almost any temperature.
  • Perennial Herbs - Horseradish, tarragon, and chives are all pretty reliable when it comes to surviving cold winds and freezing temperatures. They are also a great idea for acquiring fresh and convenient herbal flavor.
  • Shrubs & Trees - Planting in winter can help establish shrubs and trees to help them survive year-round. Some shrubs like holly, juniper, hazel, and mahonia are particularly hardy in colder climates and also perfect for crafting a more beautiful landscape.

The variety of plants that can thrive in winter gardens is quite substantial, but there is a catch. Taking care of plants in winter requires its own unique approach, which leads us to our next step.

Take Special Care Of Your Soil

Regardless of how hardy against the elements your plants are, there's only so much they can do when faced with frozen soil. Even plants that can survive a frost or two probably wouldn't thrive through the winter without a little help. Fortunately, there are ways you can provide them with warmer soil to keep them growing even during the coldest days.

If you're already using raised beds, then row covers can also be a good way to guard against frost. Covered rows provide better insulation that captures humidity and raises the temperature around your plants. With a little ingenuity, you can keep your soil just warm enough to prevent freezing throughout the winter.

Take Advantage Of Cover Crops

With minimal effort, certain cover crops can offer a great advantage in preparation for spring. They're also a great option for those looking to take advantage of the season without spending too much time outside in the cold. Cover crops help enrich your soil with specific nutrients and require little to no attention while the season lasts. The important things to remember are what your soil needs and what cover crops grow well during winter. Fava beans, rye, and wheat are great for infusing nitrogen into your soil and are easily dispatched once spring is over. Root crops such as turnips and radishes may also be useful for breaking up soil. Remember to be mindful of what you're planning to grow in spring and avoid crops that may return after they've been cut.

Take Care Of Seasonal Garden Maintenance

Apart from planting anything new, winter can be a good time for looking after your soil, compost, tools, and other essentials for a strong and healthy garden. Material that's been composted in summer should be perfect now, meaning it's also a good time to start regenerating a new batch using plenty of straw or leaves to keep the microbes insulated. You may also want to root out any dead bulbs or weeds if you have any in a specific place. Any tools that need to be cleaned or sharpened can also be addressed in detail, assuming you have more time to do so with the warmer weather temporarily freeing up your day.

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