Preparing for Winter
As an active four-seasons gardener I find the thought of preparing for winter slightly alarming. I don't ever feel like shutting down and hibernating. It's made me think seriously, though, about this coming winter, which is fast approaching. Just occasionally, when the weather is really dreadful, I get just a tiny bit gloomy.
So what should I be doing, in order to prepare positively for winter? I've got some ideas to share. Unfortunately they'll only be useful to gardeners in similar climates to mine. That means sunrise about 8 a.m. and sunset about 5 p.m., a range of daytime temperatures with average about ten degrees (Celsius), and up to five degrees of ground frost. A dump of snow can be expected every two or three years, as opposed to every two or three days - I'm thinking here of gardening friends in the interior of Canada.
The secret to successful winter preparation is mental trickery. Turning the cold, wet, and grey into warmth and good fun is the key. Here are some Moosey rules to help you have a successful winter's preparation.
Live For the Seasonal Moment
To prepare happily and positively for winter, a gardener must learn to live for the seasonal moment. Looking ahead to what's coming up - spring - can cause gloominess. Winter gardeners have a horrible habit of either slicing though or trampling all over their emerging spring daffodils, anyway. Best to shut the eyes and pretend that spring things just aren't there.
Don't Look Forward!
But looking back to photographs of last summer's riotous flower displays can be worse. And this could lead to some colour-starved winter gardeners spending the housekeeping money on artificial silk flowers, or trays of forced flowering pansies. Best to follow this simple rule. No slide shows of your own spring or summer garden photographs to be viewed after 4 p.m., or at any time of day after a glass of wine.
Be Colourful Clothes-Wise
It's important not to get bogged down and gloomy, thinking of successions of grey days. Throw out your boring winter gardening clothes and get colourful!
Winter is the perfect season to garden in loud, striped underwear - strictly thermal, of course. Then the local op shop can provide the most garish, unsubtle woollen gardening jersey to discretely cover the gardening bottom - the garment is easily replaced when too muddy.
Naturally, since this is a family-friendly website, there can be no photographs of the Moosey Head Gardener in her underwear. Imagine what the search engines would think!
Be Exotic Food-Wise
Winter gardeners need healthy, nourishing rewards, but please experiment with food and drink. Hot soup in a thermos and normal tea or coffee in an insulated cup are strictly functional. Raid the exotic shelves at the supermarket, find a daring delicatessen, and prepare parcels of wondrous, amazing winter finger food - to be washed down with spicy mulled wine. No pruning allowed within thirty minutes of eating or drinking.
Enjoy Your Glass-House
If you have a glass-house, turn the winter chores into fun and games. Enjoy your glass-house time (and keep your hands warm) by stacking and restacking all your spare plastic pots - colour coding is fun, or you can sort by size. Install a cheap portable gardening radio which muddy green-fingers are allowed to fiddle with. Install an old chair to relax into, and make all cats welcome - even if they tread on your seedlings and pee all over your wintering-over pelargoniums.
Just in Case...
Just in case the winter blues sneak up, you'll need a strong self-disciplinary consequence. Here's mine. If ever, even if for one solitary minute, any gloomy thoughts pop into my head - I have to split a wheelbarrow load of firewood as penance. Right. That's winter sorted, and I'm off outside to take my own good advice. Now where did I put that log-splitter?