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Winter, what’s there to do in the permaculture veggie patch?

Winter in a permaculture vegetable patch

Even though winter might seem like a waste of time for your permaculture vegetable garden, many tasks still need tending to. Most of all, this quiet, dormant time is the perfect opportunity to prep your garden for the vibrant spring season that’s just around the corner.Wondering what to do in a permaculture garden in winter?

Here’s how you can keep busy!

Permaculture vegetable garden in January

January in the permaculture vegetable patchDepending on where you live, January might dress your garden in a blanket of snow or an icy coat. So it’s a perfect time for your garden to take a breather.

It’s also a great time to focus on cuttings for blackberry, red currant, blackcurrant, fig, willow, and even grapevine.

Winter sowing

Sow seeds for early cropsYou can already get started on indoor sowing, in a warm environment, with lettuces, cabbages, spinach, and leeks.

Similarly, you can sow apple and pear seeds in small pots. Place these outdoors, exposing them to stratification for effective seed germination.

Garden planting

  • If the ground isn’t too frozen, you can plant garlic cloves directly in the ground, with the tip barely peeking out of the soil, and mulch over the top.
  • Similarly, this period is ideal for planting your trees and perennials, provided the ground isn’t too hardened by frost.

Mulching the soil

A good permaculture mulch is crucial during intense cold. So, renew your mulch around perennials regularly to protect their roots. Use organic material like straw, dead leaves, branches, shredded material, or even hay.

The permaculture gardener’s tip:

Always cover growing areas with mulch in winter, even if there’s no planting. You can also spread not-yet-ripe compost. January is also a great time to scatter fireplace ash on the soil, at a rate of a handful per square meter (never more).

Permaculture garden in February

Even as days start to stretch, February still ranks as the coldest month. Hence, take it easy, cozy up, and inventory your stash of seeds. Now’s a good time to order and replace them, if needed. Also, take a look at last spring’s permaculture design, tweak and revise, learning from setbacks.

→ It’s high time you got your sowing calendar in order.

The permaculture gardener’s tip:

Try creating your own soil mix, blending 30% garden soil, 30% sieved humus, and 40% sieved, mature compost.

Tree pruning

Though not always a must-do, some trees might need a trim.

Protecting wildlife

Protect beneficial alliesMake the most of winter! Set up birdhouses, bug hotels, and hedgehog huts in your permaculture garden.

→  Want more ideas? Shelters for small critters

Direct sowing

By late February, sow fava bean and pea seeds directly at base of trees for their nitrogen-fixing properties.

Permaculture vegetable garden in March

Germinate potato in winterUntil March 20 (equinox), we’re officially still in winter, but you can feel spring knocking at the door. You might even enjoy a few pleasantly warm days, but keep your eye out for those notorious March showers.

Get those potatoes germinating, simply storing them in a lighted place but away from direct sunlight does the trick.

Sowing under shelter and outdoors

Come March, there’s a lot you can start sowing in pots and on hot beds, such as many summer veggies and fruits like tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, watermelon, melon, and eggplant.

In a cold greenhouse, sow cauliflower, spinach, leek, lettuce, and broccoli seeds. Outdoors, start sowing of lettuce, radish, parsnip, pea, fava bean, and turnip.

Planting in the vegetable garden

Activity begins to ramp up in the vegetable garden as well. Plant Jerusalem artichoke, cabbage, lettuce, shallot and onion sets, and some herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage, tarragon, chives, and summer savory.

To go further:

Images: Pixabay: an anonymous photographer, Nikki Simmons, Artur Pawlak, Luster, Annette Meyer
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