Winter gardening in a greenhouse

There are a number of good reasons to choose a greenhouse for winter gardening. If you live in a temperate region, you will need a greenhouse for year round gardening. Greenhouse gardening is also popular with adherents to “green” lifestyles and gardeners who want to grow organic foods. Healthy eating is also more accessible in colder climates if you use a greenhouse. If you are growing a bonsai tree however you may want to move it inside, here is a great guide to growing an indoor bonsai tree with ease.

Planting your vegetable garden as late as winter, rather than in autumn or the last few weeks of summer, only works with a greenhouse. Although many varieties of tropical plants you could choose to grow require heat year round, a greenhouse does not necessarily need to be heated. Just the shelter of the greenhouse can provide enough warmth for many varieties of flowers and vegetables to flourish during the winter.

Choosing a heated or unheated greenhouse is the first decision you will make when you undertake greenhouse gardening. A hot greenhouse is simpily achieved by placing the greenhouse in an area that receives direct sunlight. You will need to monitor the internal temperature of the greenhouse to make sure it doesn’t rise above about 90 degrees. At higher temperatures, the greenhouse will need ventilation to moderate the heat. You can avoid this by placing your greenhouse in partial shade rather than in full sun.

A cold greenhouse, suitable for growing plants acclimated to temperate weather, is mostly shaded. The shelter provided by the greenhouse alone will allow temperatures to remain above freezing. Monitoring the temperature of a cold greenhouse is equally important because low temperatures are also a threat to plants. Space heaters can be used to warm up a cold greenhouse as needed, when outdoor temperatures are freezing.

Ventilating the greenhouse and spacing your plants apart so that they have access to circulating air is a good way to keep the plants healthy. You can purchase or build a greenhouse that has windows and doors to open for breezes, if you prefer not to install an automated ventilation system.

You can plant most kinds of vegetable in either a hot greenhouse or a cold greenhouse. Corn and pumpkins grow well on the greenhouse floor. Remember to space the plants apart, following the directions on the seed or seedling packages. You can use either potting soil or the soil below the greenhouse for plants on the greenhouse floor. Tables and small benches can be used to add extra room.

Keep potted plants spaced as well, again so that air can circulate. You can plant turnips, carrots and beets in flower boxes as long as they are reasonably deep. Flower boxes will fit under most benches, giving you even more space if you wish to vary the vegetable selection.

Both floor and potted plants can survive the winter in a greenhouse. Kale and broccoli, onions and garlic, and even most lettuce varieties will thrive during the winter months even in a cold greenhouse. As long as you water your plants and protect them from extreme temperatures, you will have a bountiful winter vegetable harvest from your greenhouse.

Lawn care tips for the winter months

When winter arrives, most people are quick to put away their gardening tools. Shoveling snow and breaking up ice takes priority, so lawn care is easily forgotten. You might remember to get ready for the first frost by winterizing the pool and bringing in the patio furniture, but there is more to winter lawn care than just that. Caring for your lawn during the winter won’t demand very much of your time, but it shouldn’t be neglected altogether. If you enjoy growing a bonsai tree then this ultimate guide to bonsai tree types is a must.

Begin winterizing your lawn in the fall by gradually lowering the blade height on your lawnmower, until it shaves your lawn very close to the ground. This is a trick that heads off new growth by cutting the grass closer to the base of the stem. New growth is more vulnerable to cold damage and would suffer in a freeze.

Mowing your lawn close to the ground also protects the grass from breakage, by preventing it from clumping up in brittle and dried heaps. You won’t want a yard full of damp, broken hay at the end of autumn.

You will want to remove all your heavy lawn equipment, put away outdoor toys and take down yard ornaments during the winter. Anything that rests directly on the grass will cause the lawn under it to smother and rot. When spring returns, if you haven’t cleared your lawn, you will have brown spots where the ornaments or toys were placed.

Putting away your gardening tools for the winter gives you a chance to organize them in storage, so that you will have them handy in the spring. Moving heavy furniture like picnic tables or kiddie pools is also important to protect the grass beneath them when it becomes dormant.

Aerating the soil and fertilizing the grass before the winter is essential to making sure your lawn looks its best in the spring. During the winter your grass will be dormant, but a generous feeding in late fall helps it rebound spring returns. Several commercial fertilizers are available specifically for winterizing your lawn, or you can use compost instead.

Servicing your lawnmower and drawing up a landscaping plan for the coming year is a great way to continue lawn maintenance during the winter. Since you will not need your mower for several months, this is a good time to have a professional change the blades and oil. Even a push mower should be serviced, since it is important to keep the blades sharp.

Although not as labor intensive as summer lawn care, winter lawn care is still very important. That last round of fertilizing, done just before the first hard freeze, will be stored by your grass until spring. The protection that you provided your grass during the winter, by trimming it close to the ground and removing lawn ornaments and furniture, will also make it much healthier in the spring.

Alternatives to chemical weedkillers using kitchen supplies

If you are looking for ways to control the growth of weeds in your garden and patio area, you can choose to purchase off the shelf chemicals, or you can pursue a more environmentally friendly, natural solution. Here are some natural tricks for removing weeds, all of which require only the use of common kitchen supplies.

Salt

Applying table salt to the soil around each plant is a very reliable way to kill weeds. You only need a small amount, a fraction of a teaspoon. Sprinkle it at the base of each weed, and the salt will draw out all the moisture from the plant by osmosis, starving it of its nutrients until it dies.

The disadvantage of using salt is that it will affect any type of vegetation. Once it is in the soil, other plants nearby will suffer as well. The best place to use a salt solution is in areas where you do not plan on growing other plants, such as in the gaps between paving slabs or on a graveled yard area.

Boiling Water

Boiling water kills weeds by scalding the leaves and shoots. The heat from the water turns the plants brown and they immediately shrivel up and die, making it easier to pull them out by the roots. Boil some water and pour it directly on the weeds, being careful not to scald yourself.

Using boiling water is not a long term solution for weed control, and works best for very small areas. Like salt, it affects the growth of other plants as well, in this case removing micro-organisms from the soil that are needed to help your own plants flourish. So just as with table salt, the best places to use boiling water are in areas where you are not planning to plant flowers or vegetables.

White Wine Vinegar

Vinegar kills weeds because its active ingredient is a powerful acid. Spraying a vinegar solution on weeds will starve them of moisture and turn them brown within a few days. Once the weeds begin to shrivel up and die, you can pull them out of the ground completely.

These three affordable remedies are all effective ways to get rid of weeds. As these solutions can affect the soil and the plants that you are actually trying to cultivate, the best places to apply them are in areas where you do not anticipate growing other plants rather than in the lawn and garden.