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Winter Garden Enemies

by | Dec 22, 2008

You have to love Virginia, if the weather’s not working for you, just wait 12 hours and it will change!

Mild temps last week-  in the garden with short sleeves. Today, 25 degrees and blowing, calling for 60 degrees Wednesday- my poor plants are losing their minds! However, this is typical weather here in the mid-Atlantic region.

These types of swings are not a big problem if the garden is prepared:

  • Number one enemy of fall-planted hardy annuals is wet feet-aka poor drainage. Because it often rains more in the winter plus the ground stays wetter longer because of no heat- poor drainage is double trouble. Planting in raised beds is the easy solution to this problem. Snapdragons and Sweet Peas -two favorites planted in the fall for spring blooms are very sensitive to this.
  • Plants heaving from the ground–looks like someone partially pulled out of the ground. This happens with the freezing / thawing cycle. Typically not so bad for me in our southeastern Virginia garden unless we have a brutal winter. To prevent- mulch beds after the frost date (Nov 15 for me).
  • Using a row cover on fall-planted hardy annuals is like putting a windbreaker on your kid before you send them outdoors. In my working cutting garden and you can do this for your cutting garden, I cover it for the winter since it is not a part of my landscape. Most air, water, and light pass thru the cloth so there is no need to remove during the day or rain. It is called a “floating” row cover because it can lay right on top of your plants. To view row cover: click here. 

You prepare the soil, then cover your most precious gem in the garden with mulch and then use a row cover for added protection. Your fall-planted spring blooming garden will be happy and ready to perform right on time.

Merry Christmas!

Lisa Z