Winter Gardening Ideas from the Cornell Cooperative Extension

By CCE Master Gardener Lyn Chimera and Community Educator Colleen Cavagna


I’m sitting here writing this with the doors and windows open. It feels like spring, but I am sure we know better!  This January thaw was perfect for getting some last minute chores done in the garden. I spent some time spreading the conifer branches I had been gathering from discarded trees.

There are a few other things you might want to check on now that the snow is not three feet deep:

  • Check any deer or rabbit barriers you have up. We discovered a few places that needed some staple gun repair.

  • If you haven’t gotten any deer or rabbit fencing and you have problems with these critters, it’s not too late to put something up.

  • In my experience the heavy weight deer mesh is more resilient. It’s more expensive, but our deer have learned to push through the lighter weight mesh, much to my dismay.

  • This is the season for garden and plant catalogues. They are a wealth of information about the growing needs of plants. If you are thinking of adding any plants, trees or shrubs check them out in the catalogues and see if they meet the growing conditions you have.

  • We have such wonderful nurseries in the area that most of the plants you see in catalogues are available locally, at reasonable prices and no shipping charge! If there is an unusual plant you’d like, check with your local nursery to see if they will be carrying it.

  • This is a great time to plot out on paper this year’s flower and vegetable gardens. Be sure to look at previous years plans so you make you are you are rotating your crops. This reduces the severity of pests and disease problems.

  • If you are going to order seeds, you should get your orders in soon so they arrive in plenty of time to start them early in your house.

Don’t forget to get outside and just enjoy the beauty of our stark winter landscape. While gardeners love green growing plants, winter has its wonders too. If you miss seeing green during this time of year, take a walk near a stream and you may find mints and touch-me-nots as well as ferns still growing on the edges of the water or banks. It can be quite a contrast from the white and gray landscape. The tenacity of our local plants can be truly breathtaking.

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