The first snow of the season is upon us. I would know, since I worked outside in it all day on Wednesday. We’re supposed to get 1 to 3 inches tomorrow, too. The meteorologists should be gearing up their “Snow Apocalypse 2010” coverage any time now.
So what’s a gardener to do when the snow starts falling? Well, I personally recommend a cup of tea or glass of wine in front of the fire, but if you must get outside, early winter is a good time to compost to the beds. And it’s a perfect time to add slightly aged horse or cow manure (if you can get it), because A. the rains and freeze-thaw cycle will work it into the beds over the winter, and B. the neighbors won’t be outside as much to complain about the smell.
Now that the ground is freezing, you can add some more mulch to insulate your plants. Lots of people think that you mulch in fall to keep your plants warm, but really, you want to wait until the ground freezes. Winter mulch actually helps to prevent the ground from thawing, so you can minimize your plants’ heaving themselves out of the soil like the undead during those freeze/thaw cycles all winter. As always, leave a little space between the mulch and the stems of your shrubs and roses; putting mulch right up to the stem promotes disease and provides a protected place for rodents to snuggle up in comfort and gnaw on your prize plants. I like straw because it’s easy to remove in spring and throw on the compost heap, but wood mulch is fine too. Just don’t go heavier than about an inch or two.
Then go inside, thaw out your toes, and pour yourself that wine.