If you’re lucky enough to be living near the equator, then you don’t have to worry about winter. But the rest of us stress and prepare for winter from as early as August. Don’t just abandon your garden to the elements over winter. There are lots of steps and precautions you can take to save the lives of your plants, and here are a few of the basics:
1. Move less hardy plants indoors or into a greenhouse - heated if possible. If you’re unsure whether or not your plant is less hardy, just search for it on Google – find out where it’s from and if anyone recommends you take it in over winter. If you have a heated Greenhouse, make sure you get ahead of spring and furnish it with a few plants and maybe a sapling fruit tree.
2. Don't allow snow to build up on the roof of your greenhouse or on the netting of fruit cages – they aren't designed to take weight. Move any items that are likely to be damaged by sliding snow away from the roof if possible. This might seem obvious, but many people forget. The crash of a collapsing greenhouse is a dreadful sound, and it’s impossible to clean up in the snow.
3. Wrap terracotta pots in horticultural fleece or bubble wrap to protect from frost. Alternatively, they can be wrapped in straw. If they're empty, put them away in a shed or garage. This isn't technically a plant tip, but it’s very important, and your plants do stand a better chance if their pots are intact. The Daily Mail wrote a great article with tips for wrapping terracotta pots; have a read if you’d like to know more.
4. Any plants that can't be moved can be protected with straw or horticultural fleece. Do not use bubble wrap for this; it will create a cold, damp environment and cause plants to rot. Taller plants should be firmly secured to their supports to minimise wind damage.
5. Make sure you clear footpaths of snow as soon as possible. Remember: hard packed snow is as slippery as ice and you can't tend to your plants from a hospital bed. This is good advice even if you don’t enjoy a spot of winter gardening. Keeping your garden clear will make every other job you do all the easier.
There you have it. These tips should see most of your garden plants through the long winter and into spring. Don’t get too down about the garden this season; remember that the cold gets rid of all of the pests for a few months. Take the good with the bad, eh?