Garden Winter Checklist

Winter is a time where most plants go dormant, so it should be a time when the gardener can finally rest. I hate to tell you that there is plenty to do during the off season to keep you busy. Plant people do not sit around twiddling their thumbs all winter. If you don’t know where to start, check out my garden winter checklist. 

Start A Compost Pile

There’s no better time to start or revamp your compost pile than the winter months. Start your compost pile in a sunny area. Soil and compost need sunlight just like plants do. Think of all the living organisms in your composting bin. Stack your kitchen scraps, dead leaves, cardboard, paper products, etc in a pile and you will have vital composting soil to use in your garden by summer. 

Cover Your Soil-

Planting cover crops that do well in the colder months like peas, clover, and grasses help provide nutrients and protection to the soil. It’s always a good idea to keep plants in the ground for as much of the year as you can. This will help lock in those helpful microorganisms that will help increase productivity of your next harvest. Once you have your crops planted, you can go an extra step and cover the rest of the soil with mulch or wood chips. This layer will help protect against weeds and improve drainage in your soil. 

Plan Your Spring Garden- 

Spring will be here faster than you think and you’ll need to have a plan ready to execute. Some varieties of seeds need to start indoors several weeks before the last frost date. Write out a list of what you want to plant and a schedule of when you need to start planting. Sounds like a great excuse to start a garden journal. You can also get a head start by purchasing seeds in the winter. This is the best time to find the cheapest seeds. 

Bring Cactus & Succulents Inside- 

I saw a few too many upsetting posts in local Facebook groups of people who left their cacti out on their front porch during a snowstorm. Needless to say there were a lot of casualties and sad plant moms in my neighborhood. Cacti and succulents are hardy plants, but do not tolerate the cold well. Keep your eye on the weather in the colder months, just in case. Be sure to spray plants before bringing them indoors to prevent contaminating your houseplants

Skip The Fertilizer-

 As mentioned before, most garden plants do go dormant during the colder months. If you still give a plant fertilizer when the plant is not growing anymore, you risk causing nutrient burn and damaging the roots. Do your research and get to know what plants do dormant in the winter as well as the summer. Some succulents actually stop growing during the warmer months. Find out your plant’s growing season and fertilize accordingly. 

I’d love to know what’s on your garden winter checklist. Let me know in the comments! And join my Fox On A Farm Facebook group to get to know each other and share gardening tips and advice.

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Plant of The Month | Compact Mini Jade (Crassula Ovata)

My eyes scanned the display of succulents at Lowe’s until I got stuck on the biggest mini jade I could spot. Her thick emerald leaves were enough for me. It might sound silly to get so excited about a $3.99 common plant, but it was my first one (give me a break). I’m fairly new to the world of house plants, but I am hooked. Since it’s cold here on t he Northern hemisphere, outdoor is close to impossible. However, we’re not going to let our green thumb powers go to waste. In this series, I will be exploring houseplants and succulents every month, giving you tips on how to keep your plants happy abs healthy all year. 

I understand that just about everyone and their grandma has this plant (or grandma passed it down), but hear me out. I’m going to convince you that you need this bad baby and how you can easily care for it. So I present you the house plant of the month, Crassula Ovata.

Jade plants are often viewed as “good luck charms”. Families will pass their plants on to their children and I think that’s so special. If that’s not reason enough to start a jade plant now, I don’t know what is. They can live up to 70 years, sometimes even longer. In addition to being a potential family heirloom, they are also east to care for. 

This cultivar is from South Africa, which tells us they like bright sun and humidity. It’s only major downfall is that it is toxic to pets, so just be careful if you have a fur child. I keep all my plants in a grow tent. High window sills and hanging planters might be a safe option as well. Now let’s get into my top tips for growing healthy, happy jade plants.

Tip #1: Light 

These little succulents need full sun, but can be tolerate a little less. If you have your jade plant inside she might be best near a south or east facing window (whichever is the brightest spot for you). If you find that the leaves look lighter or weaker, you might not be getting adequate sunlight. Investing in a grow light would help you gain control of its light schedule. They need at least 5 hours of light to be content. 

Although these plants are hardy, they can still burn in very intense light. Again, they can grow in partial light. So if you have your plants outside maybe put them in a semi shaded area if you live in hot weather. Having your succulents in containers can also help you move them around certain times of the day. 

Tip #2: Water and Soil 

Have you ever felt how juicy a succulent’s leaves are? They are able to store an incredible amount of water inside their leaves. This requires their soil to completely dry out before watering again. The biggest reason for killing a succulent is overwatering. Take a step back Plant Mama, she’ll be okay. As for the soil , everyone suggest a cacti succulent mix. But if all you have is potting soil, just mix lots of sand or pertlite and it should help the water drain until you repot. Make sure you do use a pot with plenty of drainage holes because they do not need to sit in water. This will cause root rot. The soil and roots do need to be saturated when they are watered, so drain holes are super important. Keep in mind that the jade plant will slow down in the winter, so less watering is required. 

Tip #3: Repotting 

Typically succulents don’t mind being snug and slightly rootbound in their container. However, if you want to freshen up the soil or notice your jade plant toppling over, it might be time to repot. There’s nothing wrong with upgrading your plant from a studio apartment to a two bedroom condo so it has a little room to grow. I recommend using a heavy, sturdy pot because they do get too heavy. I actually made a few cuttings from mine because she was too heavy for her nursery pot. A small terra-cotta pot is in my future.

Tip #4: Propagation Station 

You can share your jade plant with friends and family by propagating stems or leaves (although leaves take longer to root). Use a sharp exacto blade to cut off a 2-3 inch part of the stem or single leaves. Set it aside and let the wound callous over for a few days. You can either set them on top of dry soil or a plate until they start to form roots. This could take several weeks to a month or two. You don’t need to water your cuttings until they do form roots. Then you can set them on top of moist soil. Let the soil dry out before watering. You should have babies in 2-4 months! Remember, succulents grow slow, so be patient. 

Tip #5: Good Housekeeping  

Keep the leaves clean by wiping them down gently every few months if they get dusty. Build up on the leaves can interfere with photosynthesis. The more dust on the leaves, the less light the plant receives. Think of the leaves like your face, don’t touch it and keep it clean! 

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Growing Basil In Winter

Growing your own food helps you reduce waste and harvest top quality nutrients at home for you and your family. You can even do this during winter, which may come as a relief to addicted gardeners. Although you might not be able to have a pumpkin patch thriving in your backyard all year round, you can still grow herbs indoors. In particular, we’re going to take a closer look at basil and how you can grow and harvest this fantastic herb all year! 

You can tell what a plant prefers according to its origin. Basil is native to tropical regions meaning that it likes warmer weather. Give them 6+ hours of full sun and well drained soil for perfect growing conditions. Basil is a tender plant, which means it also likes to stay moist. It’s not a woody herb like rosemary, who can stand to be dry in between waterings. So make sure you keep your basil watered, but not too wet or else you run the risk of root rot. How often and how much you water your plant depends on its location. Your basil will require less water if it’s inside in the winter than if it’s outside in the heat of summer. 

You can easily get a successful germination rate by sowing seeds directly into the soil. Just make sure you over-sow them because it’s better to pinch them out if they get crowded rather than wait for more sprouts. You can also take cuttings from a mother plant and propagate them in a few simple steps.  Once you have an established basil plant or two, you won’t ever have to buy it ever again. 

Keep your supply constantly flowing by pinching leaves to promote new growth. You can also pinch the main stem in between nodes to promote a bushy, full plant. 

Most herbs will grow indoors easily. As long as you are comfortable with the temperature, your plant will be too. Sit them on a windowsill that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight and you’ll be harvesting basil in as little as 4 weeks! This can be tricky with shorter days upon us. If you’re not getting enough light, you might need to invest in a grow light. Personally, I don’t run the heat 100% of the time in winter so my house can get pretty chilly. I keep my plants in a grow tent, which could be an option if you have pets that tend to get to your plant babies. 

I hope all these tips serve you well! Happy growing and follow my Instagram for daily gardening content. 

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