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  • Marloe Scott Wilson

NOTES FROM A WINTER MOUNTAIN GARDEN

As I write, autumn has come to the mountains and the maples are turning those gorgeous reds and orange browns shot with yellow and gold. The leaves of the fruit trees are littering the lawn, ready to go back into the veggie beds as mulch, or to be a nutritious addition to The Holy Heap (the compost pile).


Winter beckons and my planning book is out for the already-growing winter project list. It is an exciting time because it’s garden renovation and maintenance time. Time to collect cardboard, pallets, latte and poles… time to design new garden structures, to sort the seeds and list the guilds for companion planting and time to look after those plants that will live, and even thrive through our cold mountain winter. Although there is not much to plant during this time, vegetables like snow peas, cabbage, kale and mint, Pak Choy and shallots and even some lettuces will face the cold quite bravely. The plants and bushes that feel the cold will be happy to be blanketed with some frost cover.


Preparation for spring is also what wintertime is for in my garden. Time to cut back, prune, pull out, build and rebuild no-dig beds, spread the compost and cook the new 28-day compost in time for the new spring seedlings. It is also a good time for going through the garden tools to clean, sharpen, fix and replace if necessary.


If you are planning a new veggie garden, take time to look up the companions, their garden buddies, and plan their beds with an eye to their good health. If you have vining veggies planned like butternut, pumpkins, cucumber, peas, green beans, tomatoes and melons, think about some simple structures to help keep them off the ground. Vertical gardening helps to save on space, prevent diseases, control pests and to harvest more easily and winter is a great time for all the research, designing and building.


A mini greenhouse is a great structure for starting seeds off early, but one can easily make do with a translucent plastic container with a lid that will act as a perfect little hothouse. Put the seed trays or small pots in the container out in the sun during the day, and bring them in at night to keep them warm. Once they germinate and start growing you can take the lids off during the day and replace them at night. Watering from the bottom is best, just pour the water into the container and let the soil in the seed trays, pots or plugs wick it up.


Before we know it August will be upon us and if we have our beds and plans together, it will benefit us immensely as we’ll be off to a flying start. Check out www.gardenate.com. This is my go-to website for planting lists and picking up useful info every month. YouTube also offers more info and advice than I will ever be able to absorb. Go Gardeners! Use the winter well!


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