10+ Winter Chores To Do Before Your Spring Garden

It’s easy to assume that during the winter months there wouldn’t be much you can do in the garden. Unless you live in a warm climate, or you extend the growing season by using a green house or row covers, typically the ground is resting until Spring revives it once again.

But just because the soil is frozen solid and the daylight hours dwindle it doesn’t mean you get a break. Oh no, there’s far too much to be doing to get ready for spring!

Cleaning Up

At the end of the growing season, there is a lot to be cleaned out of the garden. Withered vines, weeds, rotten fruits that have fallen to the ground, plants at the end of their lifecycle, stakes and trellises, pots and containers… all of these things need to be pulled up and removed from your growing area to keep it tidy and in good shape. Natural materials can be composted, trash thrown away, pots emptied and washed out, and re-usable materials rolled up or packed away in storage.

Mending/Building Fences

Assuming you’re not under several inches of snow and the ground isn’t rock hard, the wintertime offers a great opportunity to mend or build fences and fix broken gates. It’s best to do it while the weeds are dormant and you aren’t busy with the many other outdoor chores that come with Spring.

Building A Compost Pile

Now is a great time to be throwing all of your compostable materials into a pile for later use in the garden. It might not be ready to use by Spring, but the sooner you start your compost pile, the sooner you’ll have that rich “black gold” to nourish your growing garden.

Check out: {Composting The Easy Way!} for more info on how to get started.

 

Seed Catalogs

Ordering Seeds

If you’re like me, your mailbox has been flooded with seed catalogs by now. If not, you can always search stores online or request a catalog. My favorite place to order seeds from is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. You can request their free catalog HERE.

If this is your first garden, I recommend that you go slow and start by growing a few things that your family is already in the habit of buying and eating. If you have a little experience under your belt, I would encourage you to find a few new, fun varieties to try this year!

If this will be your first year growing food, check out my article on {What You Need To Know Before You Start Your First Vegetable Garden}.

Planning Your Garden

Before you start your first seeds, you need to have an idea of where you’ll be planting everything. Sketch out a plan of what your garden will look like, and where all of your plants will go. Remember to rotate your crops from where they were planted last year to avoid pest problems.ย  Think about companion plantingย for best results, and vertical gardening to make the most of your space.

Gardening Books

Do Your Research

If you will be growing something new, or if you encountered unsolved problems in the garden last year, now is a great time to read up on how to best handle them next season. You might even study different methods of gardening to experiment with this Spring. Use the time you’re stuck indoors to build up a storehouse of knowledge to draw from in the coming months.

I’ve been looking up a few issues I had with my plants, and printing off homemade recipes for pest and disease control to try this year. You might add a few gardening books to your library while you wait for Spring.

Build Bird Houses

This is a great activity to have the kids help you with during the cold winter months. Bird houses aren’t just pretty, they’re also extremely useful in the garden. Bluebirds, Chickadees, Phoebes, Sparrows, Swallows, and Wrens all provide excellent pest control, and help to reduce the number of pesky critters consuming your hard work in the garden. Invite helpful birds to live around your garden, and your plants will benefit from their voracious appetites for bugs.

Check out the article {The Best Birds For Your Garden} for more info. Find out which birds are native to your area, and then do a little research into the best houses to attract these kinds of birds.

When To Harvest Tomatoes

Constructing Cages

If you have the space to store them, now is great time to start constructing cages for your tall plants, such as tomatoes and peppers. There’s a really good tutorial on how to do it at {How To Build The Ultimate Tomato Cage for Under $2}. At least start gathering the materials so you have them ready and waiting.

Gardening Tool Maintenance

Really this should be done as soon as your growing season is over, but if you haven’t done it already now is a good time to clean and sharpen your garden tools to be in tip-top shape in Spring.

Check out {How To Care for Garden Tools} and {Sharpen Your Garden Tools} for step-by-step instructions.

broccoli and cabbage seedlings

Start Seeds Indoors

In late January I start some of my first garden plants from seed indoors. You’ll want to find out when the last expected frost date is for your area, and then count back 6-8 weeks. This will be the date that you can start your own seeds indoors.ย  If you are new to starting seeds, check out the linked article for more info on {How To Start Plants Indoors From Seed} (scroll about halfway down the page to find that section).

DIY painted tile garden markers
Painting garden markers, or making seedling labels from broken blinds or popsicle sticks is another fun activity to do indoors while you wait for Spring. Here’s how I made mine: {DIY Garden Markers}. Get creative!

There’s too much to be doing to be bored during the winter months! Pick a project, get it done, and move on to the next. Spring is just around the corner!!

What winter garden chores would you add to the list?

Kendra
About Kendra 1107 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

14 Comments

  1. Hi Kendra! This is an excellent winter list!
    Have you heard of birdhouse gourds? They’re a hard shelled squash that is frequently used to make birdhouses. They could be a fun crop for young children to tend to, and emptying the gourds and then painting them could be a fun family winter “chore”.

  2. So I have a family of 7 and we have a beef and dairy farm but would really like to not have to buy anything from the store…would you know about how much garden and or vegi to grow per person to last the winter? If it helps at all my kids eat everything and I mean everything we just can’t fiND anything that will tell is how much you need to be fully store free
    Thanks

  3. That’s a great list! I’m working on a few of those now myself. Planting seeds is in the forefront at the moment. I always have WAY too many seeds to plant in one season. Soon we will be able plant the cold weather seeds!

  4. Hi Kendra,
    I found your blog looking for garden markers…love the painted ones on tile. I too had the same problem with our plastic popsicle sticks and “permanent” marker last year. By the end of the season the sun had bleached the names right off the sticks. I was googling pictures of peppers to see what we had! We planted at least 10 different unusual ones…my husband loves peppers. So, here in Northern NY, it won’t be until late May when I can plant, so I’ll plan my garden and make some markers.

    On a separate note…do you have any advice for tomato blight? Or point me to a good site for help? We’ve had it the last two years and we did not plant the tomatoes in the same area. First year was early, second year was late. Almost all of my gardening friends here were affected. This is a rural area. Just wondering if there is anything I can treat the soil with before I plant. Most of our veggies are in raised beds.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Stephanie,

      I’ve had trouble with blight also. I’ve found that mulching heavily has helped a lot. And adding crumbled egg shells and spent coffee grounds around tomatoes and peppers has also really helped them to stay healthy and strong. Make sure they’re getting even, adequate waterings. I hope you have better luck this year!

  5. Hi Kendra,
    I love reading your blog and the comments left by others. I grew up on a farm and have always loved the lifestyle of home-grown, home-canned, home-made, living off the earth and respectful of nature. I am something of a older city girl now but reading your blog takes me back home. How wonderful are those “visits”! This was a great punch list for the winter; there are always things to do now that will make spring and summer less stressful. You are doing something good here, I’ll keep reading and joining you in some of the fun. Best wishes for a productive and fruitful year.

  6. Thank you Kendra for helping me remember all the things I can do while I wait! That is a good list. I have started doing some of the things you listed but I had not thought of all of them:) I am so ready for spring to come. I enjoy reading your blog every now and then:)
    Thank you for listing where you get your seeds. I am always looking for good places that are organic as well not too expensive!
    Thank you again:)
    Elise Meggs

  7. These are all great but have to tell you, it’s 10 above zero with a thick covering of snow and ice on the ground, so my favorite garden chore is sitting by the fire, looking at seed catalogs and thinking/planning my garden.
    One garden chore I will do now is recycle some venetian blinds by cutting them into 6″ strips and labeling them for garden use.

    • That’s a great one to add to the list, Sandra! I used broken blinds as seedling labels last year, and they did pretty well (until the “permanent” marker rubbed off). Making garden labels is a great task to get done during the cold months. I think I’ll add that as a note in my post ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

  8. All great reminders! One I didn’t think of was building bird houses with the kids. What a brilliant idea to get kids thinking about the seasons while getting them involved in the garden. We’re already starting our composting and starting our seeds indoors over here. It’s a lot of work but with so much payoff! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m also curious – are you ever looking for guest posts? We love to contribute to wonderful websites that we read and follow like yours.

    (About Us) Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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