From snow-capped peaks in the north to heavy rainfalls brought in by the sea in the south, winters are truly special in India. But, no matter which part of the country you are in, the winter chill is incomplete without some wholesome, hearty, comfort food.
Whether it’s Gajar ka Halwa or Rasam; fresh, organic ingredients make your favourite winter foods a lot more nutritious.
“But winter slows down a lot of my gardening activities, then how do I get fresh produce in the comfort of my home”, you ask? Well, with the end of the monsoon season, most of your summer/ autumn vegetables would have also reached the end of their life. Don’t worry! You can grow all your favourite vegetables again when spring returns next year. For now, just like you are preparing yourself to pull through the winter chill, spend some time in your garden prepping the soil and the plants to help them make it through the season as well.
Going on the fact that you already have a kitchen garden, let us walk you through the various ways you can prepare it for the winter chill.
Start with the most obvious task of cleaning up all the unwanted things from your garden. Old plants not only look unattractive, but they also provide a safe habitat for so many diseases, pests, and fungus. Did you know that the insects feeding on your crops can lay eggs on your plant stalks and leaves throughout the summer season? The solution - All dead and withering plants are a rich source of organic matter. Burying them in the soil will improve the overall health of the garden soil, making it more fertile for the coming months.
Weeds are truly a menace when it comes to gardening. They grow like a plague and are really tough to get rid of completely. Chopping down and adding these invasive weeds to the compost pile would also not stop them from growing again. Wondering what to do then? Dig them up from the ground and throw them out in the trash or burn them, this is the only foolproof way of ensuring these invasive conquerors don’t pay a visit to your garden during the winter months.
Cover-Crops to the Rescue
Worried about the after-effects of cold winter winds and frost on your fertile garden soil? Plant cover crops like rye, crimson clover, oats, oil-seed radish, etc.! They’ll rescue the soil from being eroded by breaking up compact areas in the soil and increasing organic matter to the garden beds. While most cover crops are planted at least a month before the frost hits, we highly recommend that you do your own research because some of these crops can be quite challenging.
Agreed winter is just around the corner and most of your summer crops are withering away but that doesn’t mean your entire garden has been laid to waste. Now would be a good time to prune some of those lone survivors and get them ready to survive the winter season. Herbs usually benefit a ton with some fall-pruning. So, if you have rosemary, thyme, sage, fennel, etc. in your kitchen garden, you might want to pick up your pruning scissors and give them some attention. Even vegetables like asparagus, rhubarb, and fruits like blackberries also love a good fall clean-up.
Don’t Forget To Mulch
We’re all aware that mulching helps to reduce rapid water loss in plants, protects the soil from eroding and keeps invasive weeds out. But did you know mulching in winter comes with some added benefits? Like plants, the soil also transitions from warm weather to cold winters. The freezing and thawing of the soil, at this time, can seriously affect the plants whose roots are set deep into the soil. Mulching in the winter will not only regulate the temperature of the soil but also regulate the moisture levels, making the plant’s transition to the winter months much easier.
Analyze and Pre-plan
Had a great summer harvest but some of the crops didn’t produce as much fruit as you expected? Well, don’t take it personally. Instead, take notes. With the onset of winter, now would be the right time to analyze which crops did well last season and which ones didn’t. Make a note of all the plants that didn’t bloom according to your expectations, then chalk out a plan for better produce next season. You can even take this time to conduct necessary tests such as soil fertility, moisture levels, and plan crop placement as well.
Prepare For Next Season
We understand winters are all about lazing around in your favourite PJs, hogging on a bowl of yummy comfort food. But, imagine having a pre-prepped garden for next summer. Do you remember the new brand of organic manure that you wanted to try on your garden soil? Yes! Now is the time to try it out. If you are not planning to have a winter garden, feed organic manure and compost to your garden soil to keep it fertile till spring returns next year. Then, just cover the soil with sheets to prevent unwanted visitors.
We can’t really delay the inevitable but we can definitely help you and your precious kitchen garden survive the temperamental winters in India. So, gather your tools and head out to your garden right now! Don’t forget to let us know what crops you are growing in your winter garden this season. We always love hearing from you!
9 Winter Flowers to cheer up your Gloomy & Grey Winter days
Here's our handpicked list of 9 Winter Flowers to adorn your home garden. These are the beautiful rewards you deserve once all the preparatory work is done :)
- California Poppy Mix
- Dahlia Unwin Dwarf
- Daisy Double Mixed
- Lupin Dwarf Mixed
- Petunia Nana Compacta
- Verbena Mixed
- Delphinium Mixed
- Gazania Mixed
- Phlox Drummondii Mixed