Winter To Do List

Alex Tisthammer | Fort Collins Nursery 

It seems as though this winter has been MIA for us here in Fort Collins, but with some cooler weather in the forecast, it’s time to think about what we need to do in our gardens this winter. The warm weather has been good for procrastinating gardeners (me being one of them) who may not have gotten around to a few things that needed to get done. Luckily, there is still time to mulch perennials, shrubs, or garlic. Gathering up loose leaves and putting them on garden beds is a great way to give plants extra insulation and help them retain moisture. Make sure they are shredded if they are large leaves, such as cottonwood or maple, or else they can trap too much moisture.

You do not need to mulch low water gardens, as it will cause rot. Fallen leaves also offer a place for beneficial insects’ eggs in the winter, and shelter for wildlife. Leave standing any leftover leaves and stems on perennials for the winter and clean them up in the spring. This debris provides natural mulch for the plants. If the seed heads of Echinacea and annual Bachelor Buttons are left up they provide food for birds during the winter months.  

Now that we’ve caught up on the things we should have done this fall, the most important thing to do through winter is to keep plants watered! Our incredibly dry windy winters paired with warm weather make it hard to keep our yards moist enough. We want our plants coming out of this winter looking well-rested and watered, not dry and stunted!

Before it gets cold enough to freeze the soil, go out and give everything a good soak. Once the temperatures stay low consistently, water twice a month on days above 40 degrees. Water trees, shrubs, and perennials. Later in the winter, around February, is a great time to prune trees and shrubs. This is especially beneficial for trees that are very sappy like Maples. When it’s cold, less sap will flow out of the cut.

By the end of the growing season, I am so tired of gardening . . . for about a month. Come January I’m already planning what new weird vegetable I want to try next season. Winter is a great time to organize and get a game plan. My go-to seed companies are Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, Select Seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Siskiyou Seeds, and Territorial Seed Company.

Among those companies, you can find anything you could possibly want. Baker Creek specializes in the weird and heirlooms. Speaking of seeds, you can start scattering poppy seeds once we get good snow. Simply sprinkle the seeds on top of the snow and the snow will help the seeds settle and water them in.

Before we know it’s going to be time to start planting again, so join me, fellow gardeners, in enjoying your time off and revel in the next month of daydreaming and scheming before we get to do it all over again!


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