Old Man Winters’ arrival doesn’t mean that the Winter garden can be neglected. Keeping the garden on an even footing against the ravages that winter can bring is an ongoing. Neglecting proper garden closing chores and winter maintenance tasks is only a recipe for a headache in the spring. Follow a few of these winter garden tips and a bountiful spring will be waiting in a few months time.
Setting the winter garden table
An interesting to look at and healthy winter garden depends upon taking steps in the late fall or early winter. Clean up the garden. Make sure that any garden trash is picked up before the snow flies. If this “trash” is left behind it presents an opportunity for bacteria to find its way into any cuts in the plant or onto the plants roots. Bacteria growth, and possible disease, on the plant is the biggest danger to a winter garden.
Watch out for color when trimming
If you have had your garden for at least one winter season you know what has color during winter and what does not. Trim this color judiciously looking for maverick branches, but be sure to keep the overall form of the shrub so that winter color can shine in a uniform way. If you are not sure, leave it alone and get a feel for what has winter color for next winter. If a shrub has a winter bud on it, leave it be as this is where the flower will come from next spring.
Trim out the cut or torn limbs
Chances are that a torn or cut (looks like a knife cutting into an apple about an eight of an inch deep) limb will end up dangling, or on the ground, as winter progresses. Take care of it early and your garden will look sturdy and ready for whatever the winter has to offer. Look for a nodule on the limb (looks like a knuckle of sorts) and cut about one quarter of an inch above it on an angle for a proper cut.
Weed to a clean ground
Weeds also present a messy problem through the winter. Not only will they decay and offer disease potential, they will also continue to grow their roots until the ground freezes hard. This will only make them more invasive in the spring. Besides, if you weed to a clean ground you will have a nice clean contrast to the dormant plants in the garden.
A nice clean edge
Unless you are going for a more informal look, give a nice edge job to your garden flower beds before the ground freezes. Not only will this make for a crisp look during the winter months, as the edge freezes, but it will put you one step closer to a solid start in spring.
To wrap or not to wrap
If you look at many winter gardens you may notice that people have wrapped burlap or some other material around their evergreen shrubs. Generally, this is to prevent a snow load or high wind from damaging the plant. Unless you have the potential for a snow load or predictable high winds this is not necessarily needed. The wind issue is an issue, but remember that all plants need air circulation, no matter what type of plant they may be. If you wrap a shrub/plant to tightly air circulation will diminish and present the opportunity for moisture build up and disease. If you wrap your shrubs make sure to do it securely but with air circulation in mind.
It cannot hurt to mound
Mounding around the base of a plant is intended to give the root systems of a shrub/plant a little extra insulation during hard winters. Depending upon which zone you happen to be gardening in the need for mounding rises and falls. In any case, you want to make sure that you compress the dirt of the mound with a firm push of the hands. This gets some of the air out of the mound and generally makes a mound of dirt look a bit nicer. It also shows that you took a little care in your gardening. This sometimes impresses people that visit your winter garden.
Trees are plants too
Take a few moments to assess your trees before the winter winds start to howl. Look for any branches that may have grown old, look to be growing across the desired vertical path of a properly trimmed tree or have died during the season. What you are looking for is any limb or branch that may rub constantly on another opening a wound in the bark. Generally, you would not want to cut a branch as winter approaches, or during the winter months, but sometimes you need to.
If youre looking to turn your garbage into gardeners gold and do it in a hurry, then you should try a compost tumbler. If you have a compost bin then you know how great it is to add compost to your flower beds and vegetable garden. But making compost takes time and its usually in short supply. A compost tumbler is a great time saver when making compost.
Some gardeners believe that compost is better than fertilizer because it doesnt just feed your plants, it also improves your soil. Improving your soil keeps your plants healthier so they grow stronger and more capable of fighting off diseases or beating droughts. Compost is decomposed organic matter and is high in nutrients that plants love. Bacteria and other micro organisms help break down that decomposing organic matter and their short life cycles become part of the process itself. When they reproduce their offspring continue the process while the parents bodies break down and add to the organic matter. Its natures way of recycling.
Creating compost will usually take a couple of months. If you get the ratio of browns to greens right, turn the pile to keep it aerated and dont let it dry out youll be rewarded with fresh earthy compost. The more you tend your compost pile, the quicker your garden waste will become compost. Neglect the pile and it will still become compost but itll take a lot longer. For an example of this examine the rich soil in a forest. As leaves and tree litter fall to the ground, there isnt anyone there making sure its the same wetness as a wrung out sponge. But by the time the next season rolls around, a lot of those leaves have begun decomposing and in the process, theyre feeding the trees and the cycle continues without any help from man.
The gardening season can be very short depending on where you live. In the Northeast we have about 4 months of time to grow the flowers, fruits and vegetables that we love. So unless you have a huge bin of compost ready to go on the first day of spring youll need some more during the growing season. A compost tumbler is perfect for making compost fast. Now you probably wont make enough compost to fill new beds but the amount you can make is perfect to give your plants and nice top dressing.
Or if you are a composter with a pest problem, the compost tumbler will keep the critters out of your pile. The most popular tumblers are sealed up and only have holes for air. If rodents or snakes have been problems for you in the past then the compost tumbler is the solution that youve been looking for.
Theres a few things youll need to do a little differently if youre used to bin composting. First off, youll need to add all the raw materials at once. Dont continue adding or else your compost will never be done. Add what you want and then start turning. Try to turn it everyday. If not everyday then at least a few times a week. The first few batches will take the longest unless you already have some compost that you can toss into the tumbler. Or you can use a compost activator. Thats all activators really are anyway. Just someones elses compost to help get your pile started. The bacteria and micro organisms have to get in there somehow.
Be sure not to over water when using a compost tumbler. Moisture doesnt escape as easily inside the tumbler as with a regular compost bin. And most likely your ingredients such as grass clippings or coffee grinds were already moist to begin with.
After about 3 weeks the compost should start to look like compost. It should be an even color and you shouldnt be able to tell what you put in the tumbler. If your waste is still recognizable then let it decompose a while longer. And dont forget to smell your compost. It should have a nice earthy smell to it.
If youre looking for a neat & compact composting solution that works quickly and wont receive a lot of attention from your neighbors, then look into a compost tumbler. You’ll be tumbling your way to a great garden this season.
PRO TIP: I have a small compost bin inside the house to put vegetable cuttings and scraps in. Once it’s full, I add it to the tumbler outside. It’s a great way to reduce waste and maximize your compost!
So you’re a gardener…or maybe a startup gardener! Wherever you land, there are some basic things that seem to apply to everyone during the stages of their gardening journey.
Things like weeds, pests, and bad harvests show up in every garden, every year. But this class is going to be your ticket to tackling even the hardest of seasons. You’ll have tricks up your sleeve that will help you succeed from the day the seed goes in the ground ‘til the day you harvest it.
Using essential oils in the gardening process helps us garden in a way that results in fruits and veggies that have been lovingly cared for in the most organic way. You can even achieve that affordably, sustainably, and without the use of harsh chemicals, friend!
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the chemical compounds that make up the lifeblood of a plant. They’ve even been referred to as the ‘immune system’ of the plant.
We are able to use them through the process of distillation after harvesting. The part of the plant with the beneficial chemicals (stems, leaves, bark, etc.) is harvested and sent through a very meticulous distillation process. Every plant needs a very specific distillation time and Young Living has 25 years of experience in that art.
After the plant is distilled a concentrated oil is the result. It is potent and loaded with uncountable benefits for your overall health and wellness. It is bottled, shipped to you, and then can be used topically, aromatically, or internally*!
The beneficial chemicals in the oils can be absorbed by your body (and the plants in your garden) to maintain optimal overall health and wellness. Because they are so concentrated, one little drop goes a loooong way! Wait until we get into the canning section of class – your mind will be blown!
*Young Living has an entire line of oils dedicated to ingestion called the Vitality line.
Seed to Seal
This is hugely important. Why? The FDA has almost no regulations and safety measures on the essential oil industry. The oils found in drug and big box stores, online, and even from other oil companies have been tested to find harsh synthetic fillers and chemicals. A cheap perfume grade oil is distilled at high pressure and high temps and usually with chemical solvents. This yields an adulterated oil that can still be labeled “100% pure”… which, in my opinion, is a scary thing!
Young Living decided to rise above that and create their own strict guidelines to ensure purity. It is called the Seed to Seal Quality Commitment. They abide by very strict guidelines to fulfill their promise in sending only the best products to your home.
plant material that is grown on corporately- owned farms or carefully vetted partner farms (that you CAN visit!)
sustainable farming and sourcing practices, providing the purest oil
great care taken to preserve and protect natural resources
hand-weeded fields and ZERO use of pesticides
oils that retain all their natural constituents and therapeutic properties
use of food-grade distillers with state-of-the-art design and distillation methods
low pressure and low temperature distillation, without the use of solvents or synthetic chemicals
rigorous testing on each batch by internal labs and third-party facilities
oils that are carefully reviewed through every step of production in order to meet or exceed industry safety and purity standards (beyond organic!)
And the best part… if the oils do not meet these high standards they are rejected and will not be bottled as a Young Living product. Now you can sleep tonight knowing you are getting the absolute best.
Check out more info on their Seed to Seal promise HERE.
Ready to Tackle the Outdoors
It’s no secret that bugs can totally ruin your garden plans. From eating your plants to taking a bite out of you, they can really dampen any gardening dreams!
You could use insecticides or sprays made from harsh chemicals, but certainly at a cost to you and the environment. They can lead to bioaccumulation of toxins in your body (and even in your plants) that are linked to chronic illness and disease! Yikes.
Fortunately, Young Living recently released an Insect Repellent that has been tested to repel mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas using 100% naturally derived, plant-based ingredients. Pure sesame oil and a carefully selected blend of essential oils traditionally used for their bug-repellent properties come together to make up all 99% of the active ingredients in this formula. The other 1%? Vitamin E. That means you can use it on your little ones and not worry about the synthetic chemicals used in many traditional repellents. You’ll also love the pleasant, citrusy aroma and smooth, non-sticky application.
If you’re more of a DIY kind of person, try this easy Outdoor Spray recipe! It can be used on you OR your plants! #HowConvenient
Pets & Your Garden
Now, what about the pets we love and adore but can’t seem to keep out of our gardens? As much as we love them, let’s face it, they can get into the garden and cause quite a mess.
A simple and safe way to encourage them to stay away is by using scents. Dogs dislike the smell of Black Pepper and cats dislike the smell of Rosemary. Therefore, they’ll choose to stay away from areas with that scent. And if you didn’t know already, those essential oils exist! Perfect!
Unwanted & Unpleasant Growth
You can waste SO many hours on weeds. Summer is short enough, let’s not spend unnecessary time dealing with weed overgrowth! If you’re trying to get rid of unwanted plant growth that doesn’t involve harmful chemicals (linked to so many neurological, hormone, and overall health imbalances) just know there are some safe alternatives. Weeds HATE Cinnamon so try your hand at this easy DIY.
‘Wither the Unwanteds’ Spray
Add 25-50 drops of Cinnamon Bark in a 4 oz. glass spray bottle. Top it off with distilled water. Shake and spray at offenders. Douse roots and leaves as needed.
Sometimes ‘unwanted friends’ begin to grow on our beloved plants. That can cause poor growth, bad harvests, or even plant death. They can block the pores of the plant responsible for breathing and eventually choke out the plant completely. They can also steal vital nutrients from the plants which significantly decreases the amount of your harvest! We don’t want that!
‘Plant Love’ Spray
Add 10 drops each of Tea Tree, Peppermint, and Citronella to a 4 oz. glass spray bottle. Top off with distilled water. Shake and spray along affected parts of the plant during your gardening chores!
If you’ve been around the garden scene a while you’ve heard of companion planting. And if you haven’t heard, let me enlighten you! Some plants play well together; others do not. This is because every plant has certain nutrients that it uses from the soil for growth and fruit production. Also, plants excrete certain byproducts back into the soil that can either help or hinder your harvest!
If you grow two types of plants next to each other that both rely strongly on nitrogen for growth, they will compete and overuse the nitrogen in the soil and starve each other out! Corn and tomatoes are an example of plants that don’t play nice.
Conversely, if you plant two types of plants next to each other that eat different nutrients they will work together to promote each other’s growth. A good example of this is tomatoes and carrots. They work together in the soil. Therefore, plant them next to each other and it will result in a more bountiful harvest.
So what does this have to do with essential oils? Well, essential oils are made from plants so consider using oils in place of your companion plants. For example, if you are looking to plant Lavender next to Green Beans, grab your Lavender essential oil instead. Create a “Companion Spray” to use on the soil and leaves of the plant using this guide. Add 10-15 drops of the corresponding essential oil to a 4 oz. glass spray bottle. Top with distilled water; shake before each use. So easy!
Did you know that some plants self-pollinate? Fruits like peppers can stand alone and produce fruit. Not every plant does that. Lots of them need the help of cross-pollination between male and female plants! Know who helps with that?! POLLINATORS!
Bees and butterflies are some of the friendliest insects you can get into your garden! Without them you’ll have measly harvests and be disappointed that all your hard work didn’t result in the delicious produce you wanted!
Pollinators are attracted to the smell of flowers and luckily some of our wonderful essential oils are distilled from flowers… so convenient!
Create a spray using essential oils to spritz on the flowering buds of your garden to encourage pollinators to come in and get the job done!
Tending the Harvest
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… HARVEST SEASON! All your hard work and patience has paid off and you get to pluck delicious fresh food from the earth and eat to your heart’s content!
If you’re like me, sometimes I find that fresh produce goes bad before I can eat it. That’s because bacteria rests on your fruit and without the support of a plant, the fruits and veggies break down and can grow nasty spots on them.
As you can see, it’s important to always wash your fruits and veggies! It keeps you and your family from ingesting yucky things the produce may have tagging along.
Young Living has an exclusive Thieves Fruit and Veggie Soak (and a spray!) that you can use for this very reason. Soaking the food loosens the dirt and other crud and rinses it right down the drain.
You can even make your very own “produce soak’ with a sinkful of warm water and several drops of Thieves and Lemon essential oils. Super simple! Another tip I have for keeping your harvest fresher for longer is to clean your storage containers! The amazing Thieves Dish Soap contains no sulfates, dyes, formaldehyde, phosphates, or synthetic perfumes and has a delightful citrus scent. It’s one of my favs!
And has anyone ever noticed that once the fruits and veggies get in the house those pesky winged creatures magically appear?! Try out this simple diffuser recipe, using your essential oils, to keep yourself sane.
In order to can 30 quarts of spaghetti sauce you will need a lot of oregano… LOTS. Buying dried organic oregano adds up very fast in order to achieve the flavor you want in your recipes.
But remember when we talked about how essential oils are concentrated liquid forms of a plant?! You better believe that means they pack a big flavor punch for each drop you use! For one LARGE pot of spaghetti sauce I use 2-3 drops of Oregano Vitality essential oil as opposed to much larger amounts of dried oregano. That’s it! It goes so far and has such a rich and pure flavor. Save money AND use a high quality ingredient. #WinWin
Young Living has an entire line of Vitality oils, not just Oregano. There is a great selection of herbs and spices (and even citruses). PLUS they are all Non-GMO certified. That’s huge!
Love for the Gardener
You know we love our plants when we are willing to break our backs, scrape up our fingers, and endure biting bugs in order to give them the best chance they’ve got!
Young Living knows you’re just as important as your precious plants and has a whole host of products to help you care for yourself, too!
Stiffness can be a thing of the past when you use a Deep Relief Roll-On or Panaway on sore muscles. Simply roll or drop the oil on the area that is giving you grief. Use as needed!
Lavender is an oil no gardener should ever be without! It may help cleanse and soothe minor skin irritations so keep it on hand. It also can be soothing to the skin after a day in the sun. If you forget to apply your outdoor spray, don’t worry. This roller recipe will be just what you need!
Get the Best Deal
Young Living has several options to help you get started and snag the best deal possible. Even if you already have your own Young Living account, there are still some money-saving tricks you need to know!
Who wants to pay full price when you can get the same thing at a discount?
Information obtained here is meant for educational and informational purposes ONLY, and to motivate and empower you to make your own wellness journey based on your own research and partnership with your healthcare provider.
The statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.