Most folks think it is time to put away the garden trowel and sit in the easy chair and only dream of spring, but those that want to keep their fingers in the earth for soul restoration and sanity– there is plenty you can do now.
Now is a great time to bring in lots of organic matter for the garden. You can work it into the top few inches of your garden now or just spread it around and let it work as a winter mulch to be mixed in in spring. Just depends on your plans for that spot.
For the gardens that will be planted during the winter months or very early spring when the ground is likely to be either heavy and wet from winter rains or to have a cover of snow, I’d work and prepare the soil now so it is ready to be planted. Once ready mulch to prevent winter/spring weeds from developing such as chickweed. If you experience snow load I’d cover the bed with landscape cloth so that you can shovel snow from the bed and then pull back the cloth to expose the beautifully prepared soil ready for planting.
Beds still covered going into spring.
When planting in the winter or early spring you can easily make an environment that creates needed heat during the day and gives a little cold protection at night with a row cover on a bed that is 3 feet wide and any length. Make hoops out of PVC 1/2″ flexible pipe (available in rolls at home improvement stores) cut into 60″ or so lengths, cut the ends at an angle so it is easier to push into soil, using one piece: push each ends on either side of the bed to create a hoop, the closer together the hoops the stronger it is, I place them 3-5′ apart. Cover with row cover and hold the cover in place with rocks or something heavy. Provides wind protection, concentrates heat during the day, and gives your cold-hardy plants a little nighttime protection.
Leaf lettuce is kept under cover during winter, harvested all winter.
What to plant? If you want some great spring flowers try “Chantilly” Snapdragons, “Sweet” Sweet Williams, “Tetra” Feverfew, “Blue Cockade” Scabiosa, and many others that you can find on this link. Some of the easy and really tasty veggies to winter plant; leaf lettuce, spinach, radishes, and other greens. Planting transplants is the way to go during the cold months.
Spring will never be the same once you do some winter planting- these planting will be well on their way while everyone else is just thinking of getting out and gardening!