Winter Gardening Tips for NJ Homeowners
The cold winter winds are blowing, and snow is on the ground, but that can’t keep a real gardener down. In the middle of a long, cold winter, true green thumbs start to daydream about green growing things, New Jersey homeowners included. If you find yourself thinking more and more about last summer’s tasty homegrown tomatoes or the smell of fresh basil when you pluck the biggest leaves for pesto, try these winter gardening tips to soothe your gardener’s soul and get your green on!
- Take a look at your yard from all windows of the house and note unfavorable views that might be enhanced with winter color or interesting plantings. Look at heights and note if you could use some variety – are your plantings all at the same height and in need of some smaller or taller plants? Write your winter garden landscaping ideas in a garden journal to follow up on in the spring and summer when you can shop for shrubs and landscape plants that are colorful and interesting through winter.
- Read about different evergreens with varying shades of green, red twig dogwood, or showy ornamental grasses that keep their feathery seedheads through the wind and snow and provide a stark and serene view when the rest of the garden is asleep.
- Visit a public garden or NJ nursery for some inspiration and new ideas for your garden and landscape.
Prepare your pruning shears and loppers by removing any rust, oiling the joints, sharpening the blades with a file and cleaning and disinfecting the cutting edges.
- Walk around your property inspecting trees, evergreens and shrubs.
- Look for crossing branches and side shoots on the trunks.
- Thin out very overgrown and crowded canopies and remove broken and diseased branches and twigs.
- If you have never pruned anything before, read a few books about it first or have a landscaper do it.
Try winter sowing to get a head start on the mad rush of spring gardening and landscaping activities and satisfy your gardener’s heart during winter’s gloom.
- Gather several plastic milk jugs or disposable take-out food containers, make some drainage holes in the bottoms and ventilation holes in the tops, fill with moist (not soggy or waterlogged) potting soil or seed starter mix and plant seeds such as snow peas, lettuces, broccoli, and other cool season crops.
- Put your mini-greenhouses outside in a sheltered spot such as under the patio table on your deck or outside your back door.
- Keep an eye on them so they don’t dry out or become waterlogged.
When the seeds get their cues from the weather and break dormancy to sprout, you’ll have a little green party started to get you in the swing of gardening for spring!