Brook’s Garden: Surviving the Cold Months

Oh dreary winter — it’s the only time of year that takes gardeners out of our natural habitat. Although we may bitterly retreat indoors for much of our day, there is still an abundance of work we can do outdoors.

I visit my garden a few times a week during the winter. This is vastly different from summer visitations, when I’m deep in dirt on a daily basis.

The best time to start winterizing a garden is after all the beds have been cleaned out and before the monsoon season starts in earnest. This generally occurs around late-October to early-November in the Pacific Northwest.

Tuck it All In With Compost

Once my garden beds are cleared out, I place 3 to 4 inches of Lane Forest’s Garden Compost on my empty beds to tuck them in for winter. Around the berry plants or other plants I want to over-winter, I put down Blended Mint Compost around their roots. This will help nourish and insulate my plantings over the harsh months.

There are also winter crops that still perform well in the garden – kale and carrots can withstand the colder temps but do better with compost around their roots. I have over-wintered carrots, potatoes and Swiss chard. November is also the time to plant your garlic! Mmm, so many varieties to choose from – this is a newer endeavor, so stay tuned to hear about my favorite varieties after next year’s harvest!

Tools That Last

The final important element in winterizing for your garden is tool maintenance. We all know how important it is to have the right tool for the right job and taking care of those tools is the key to having them in tip-top shape for years to come.

Brook’s Best

My favorite winterizing trick is to clean and sand my metal tools. If I don’t paint them, I typically winterize them by filling a five gallon bucket halfway with beach sand and adding 1 cup of vegetable oil; I then mix those together. Next I plunge my clean, dry garden tools into the oily sand several times. This will clean them further and coat them with a protective seal. Don’t forget to store them in a clean and dry spot!

Article written by Lane Forest employee & Master Gardener Brooke Everett. Find more of Brook’s Tips by clicking here.