Home » Health&Spirit » Winter Gardening in Globe-Miami. Part 1

Winter Gardening in Globe-Miami. Part 1

Gardening success starts in the winter when the ground is hard and the wind can be cold. A local Globe-Miami gardener, Mary Hysong, has been coaxing robust crops of garden vegetables from her 20-acres east of Miami for nearly thirty years. Here she outlines her top six tips for getting started this winter. 

1Planning. In December, I make general garden plans, check over my seed stocks and order any seeds I need. After New Year’s, I make more detailed plans. I use a large calendar to write in the first dates to plant vegetable, flower and herb seeds in the spring, as well as the latest dates to plant them toward fall.

2Pruning. Since January is usually the coldest part of our winters, it’s a good time to prune fruit trees and grape vines. To learn how, visit the library or YouTube.

3Cleanup & composting. January is a good time to clean up in the garden if you didn’t get to everything in the fall.  Be sure to start a compost pile with all of the weeds and leaves you rake up. Mix them with some manure (any kind is good, check with friends that keep horses, chickens, rabbits or other livestock if you don’t have any).

4Mulch. While cleaning up, remember that nature never leaves the soil bare. I hate to see people strip the vegetation from areas and leave them bare. You have just killed off a lot of beneficial wintering insects like lady bugs and praying mantises. I clean up areas slowly and leave a lot of what people call weeds just so I can keep these great garden helpers around. If you are not planting right away, be sure to put down some mulch material to protect the soil and feed the soil life. Your earth worms will thank you!

5Watering. Remember that your trees and shrubs need a deep soaking at least once a month when there has been no rain, even in winter. Just because it is cold does not mean the ground is wet.

6Soil preparation. How you prepare your soil depends somewhat on the state of the soil you are starting with, what your goals are and what style of gardening you follow. As a generalization, the soil in our area is caliche clay, has a pH of 9, lacks nitrogen and potash and has too much phosphorous. It also has nearly zero organic matter. Adding organic matter to the soil helps because it lowers the pH, improves the soil’s texture and water-holding capacity and fosters the diverse soil life needed for a great garden. Compost, manure and peat moss are all great sources of organic matter. Keeping the soil covered year round with a mulch of straw, fine wood chips, leaves, grass clippings or other material helps keep up the organic matter content while feeding the plants and soil life as it breaks down. A mulch also helps keep the soil cooler and conserves water. No matter what you are planting, breaking up the heavy caliche is a must. There’s lots more to know about soil preparation – another topic for study at the library or online.

See Globe-Miami Winter Gardening. Part 2


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