Winter gardening – what NOT to do with Erin & Alexandra

Winter gardening – what NOT to do with Erin & Alexandra

Hi there it’s Alexandra from the
Middle-sized Garden YouTube channel and blog and I’m talking about winter
gardening chores that you either don’t have to do or you actually shouldn’t do
and I’m doing this in coordination with Erin from The Impatient Gardener in the
United States she gardens in Wisconsin and she’s doing a video of the gardening
things that you really do have to do in winter -they will make a big difference to
your garden in the summer – and I’m on that video as well. So why are we doing
this video together? Well Erin and I are at the opposite ends of the temperate
gardening zones. To explain the USDA hardiness zones – that is United States
Department of Agriculture hardiness zones. The UK, Canada and Australia also
have their own hardiness zones but the USDA ones are the most widely known.
There are 13 levels. 0 is the coldest – Arctic I presume – and 12 is the highest,
it’s pretty tropical hardly any winter at all. Most of coastal Britain is roughly a USDA
hardiness zone of around 9 which means our average winters rarely drop below
about minus 1 Celsius minus 3 Celsius. Although of course we
can have the occasional very harsh winter. Hi everyone, I’m Erin from The
Impatient Gardener and I’m standing here in my garden in the Midwest of the
United States specifically in Wisconsin, which is right along Lake Michigan in
the Great Lakes area. This garden is significantly colder than Alexandra’s
garden even though we grow many of the same plants, so here I’m gardening in a
USDA zone 5, which in theory gets to an average cold temperature of negative 20
degrees Fahrenheit of course that’s an average. Last year it was much colder
than that but many years we’ve never gotten anywhere near that. Inland in Britain
it can drop to a zone 6 if it’s high up, like the central highlands of Scotland
or some of the mountains in the Lake District, but really interestingly it can
be very different just 10 minutes away from where you live. Here in Faversham
we’re about a mile from the sea which is one of the reasons why
we have such mild winters but if I drive for ten minutes to Whitstable, which is
on the sea, they have frost even more rarely than we do. And one day I woke up
to find it was minus one degree in my garden, so I drove to Doddington Place
Gardens, which is about 10 to 15 minutes away. It’s inland and it’s on a slight hill and by the time I got there, the
temperature was minus 6 Celsius so that’s a 5 degree difference in just
15 minutes drive. So that gives you an idea why it’s really worth getting to
know your own gardens conditions as the advice that you get generally from
YouTube channels like mine or from newspapers or magazines may not apply to
you if you are a bit colder or a bit warmer than the average. The Middle sized
Garden roughly equates to a USDA hardiness zone of 9
whereas Erin in Wisconsin’s garden equates roughly to a hardiness zone of 5
and yet we have the same plants in our garden – we have roses, we have lavender, we
have hydrangeas, we have all sorts of things – lots of shrubs that are the same,
so if you visited our gardens and summer you might think they were practically in the
same climate. In winter it’s very different, so that’s really what you need
to bear in mind when you’re thinking about which gardening chores you should
do and which gardening chores you shouldn’t do or you don’t have to do.
Probably the first thing that I don’t do is dig. I don’t dig my garden at all and
I certainly don’t dig over my borders in autumn to loosen them up for the winter.
I practice no dig (no-till) and there’s a video with a link in the description
below where I interviewed Charles Dowding, who’s probably the most famous
No dig, No till YouTube gardener and I talked to him about no dig in terms of
flower gardens – it works just the same as for veg gardens. What I do at this time
of year is that I lay a layer of garden compost or well rotted manure on top of
my soil. I don’t dig it in. I let it cover the soil. It protects some
of the plants the microorganisms and the worms draw it in for me so that’s great
for opening up the soil texture, and it feeds the soil and it covers up annual
weed seeds, and it saves an awful lot of time and it saves your back.
I started no dig because I had a bad back and actually I’ve kept up with it
because it’s an easy way of gardening. Another job I don’t do for the winter is
I don’t dig up my dahlias, and it’s not just about how cold your winters are. If
you’re in a zone eight or nine, not digging up your dahlias is certainly
worth a try. If you’re more like zone five ,six or seven it’s much more risky,
but more important is your soil. In your microclimate you may have very heavy
very damp soil and dahlias and cannas do not like spending the winter sitting
in very heavy damp cold soil and personally I don’t blame them – I wouldn’t
like it myself. We’re reasonably dry in this part of the
UK although obviously winter is wetter than summers, so I’ve taken the risk I
leave all my dahlias and my cannas in the borders. I cut off the frosted
vegetation I then cover the plant with a great mound of mulch and I leave it and
I would say that three quarters to 9/10 of them have come through and they’ve
been fine the following year and what’s more they’ve really spread and grown but
it’s always going to be a risk and there’s always going to be the one that
doesn’t come through, but on the other hand if you think about digging up your
dahlias and then having to store them and having a space to store them maybe
this is risk worth taking it’s up to you to try it. However it is
worth bearing in mind that you shouldn’t leave your dahlias in the ground for
year after year – I’ve done a video about this and there are professional
gardeners in the southeast who leave their dahlias
in the earth, so it’s not just about professional gardeners digging them up
an amateur gardeners not. However in professional gardens, nothing stays the
same for that long so it’s very unlikely any dahlia would be in the ground more
than two or three years. I left my dahlias in the ground for eight years
and that was too long! They started to send up lots of very thin stems and the
flowers also deteriorated. So you don’t have to dig your dahlias up every winter
if you have a mild climate but you do have to dig them up sometimes. Another
thing I don’t do is I don’t put my pot plants on pot feet. Now the most valuable
plant in my garden is actually in a pot – it’s this topiary spiral and I bought it
for 250 pounds. It’s a massive investment in terms of my garden so I would do
anything to protect it but I have not put it on pot feet. You will however see
that it’s also it’s not sitting in a drip saucer and I think that this may be
the clue. The reason for putting pots on to pot feet in winter is that if your
pot sits in cold water and that water freezes the roots of your plant, it may get
very cold and they may die. That’s never happened to me and I don’t put my pots
on pot feet. However they’re not in a saucer so if it rains the water just
generally does drain and so they’re not sitting around in really cold water. When
it comes to pots, possibly the best thing you can do for them is to move them
closer to the house because all buildings retain heat. A friend of mine
did her horticultural studies in a large College and there were two long beds
that stretched from the building out into the middle of the garden and the
students used to plant them up with tulips. And she said it was fascinating
how every year the tulips closest to the house would come out so much earlier
than the tulips further down the bed so it makes a huge difference to
bring pot plants right close to the house. I’ve got a bay tree that has
survived some very severe winters because it lives next to the house – there
were two other bay trees in the middle of the garden and they were killed off
in a serious winter, so even in your own garden you’ve got micro climates. And one
last thing that I don’t do is that I don’t avoid walking on the lawn in frost or snow. Now in
the lists of winter garden jobs and garden tasks and garden warnings that you see
in the newspapers of magazines it says don’t walk on your lawn and I’ve even
seen people say put boards on your lawn to avoid walking on them in frost or
snow. I have walked across my lawn in frost I
photographed it and I’ve seen that it doesn’t do any damage afterwards but I
would say that we don’t have very many frosts so it’s not happening very often
and also there’s only really me around to walk on the lawn. If you have a lot of
people walking across your lawn or if you have frost or snow every day, it may
be completely different. Over to Erin now to hear what she thinks we shouldn’t
be doing in our garden or what we don’t have to do in our garden. Things are much
different here then they can be in Alexandra’s garden over the winter,
because things really shut down here in winter, it’s very hard to do much of
anything in your garden and rather unpleasant too, just because it’s so cold
but there are a few things you should make sure not to do in your garden in
winter if your gardening in a climate that’s similar to mine. So the first
thing I would say you need to be careful of not doing in your garden and winter
is be wary of those beautiful stretches of weather in which it seems like a
great reprieve from winter and you’re anxious to get out into your garden and
start doing a lot. You can actually do a lot more damage in your garden than you
can do good if you get out there too early, you want to be careful of pruning
too early anything like that can can really damage things when you get
another cold spell, so it’s a good time for enjoying looking at your garden
but maybe not such a good time to get in there and be actively working in your
garden. Another thing you want to make sure that you don’t do in your garden
over winter is fill it up with salt. So of course it gets icy and you need to
make sure that walkways are safe to walk on for you and your pets and your
friends and neighbors who might be coming over but you also want to make
sure that that salt doesn’t end up in your garden beds where it can do a lot
of damage to your soil and to your plants, so a really good option to do
when you can is to use sand that provides a lot of grip and that’s just
fine if that goes in your garden at the end of the at the end of the day. We do
use some salts around the garden but we’re careful with where and we
use the least that we need to use in order to make sure that it’s
safe. I usually do a combination of salt in the very dangerous areas – stairs,
things like that or places where ice tends to accumulate – and mix it with a lot of sand which
really makes it good, and frankly your garden will thank you for keeping that
salt usage down. One other thing you shouldn’t do in your garden is walk
around in your garden beds. Again this kind of goes back to be careful what you
do in your garden when you get a warm day but even if it’s not warm, even if
everything seems frozen, you don’t want to be treading around in your gardens. In
addition to possibly accidentally stepping on the crowns of plants – things
like that- you can cause a lot of compaction in your garden so it’s best
to keep your feet out of the garden as best you can. It’s actually a very good
rule to follow all year long but it’s especially important in winter when the
ground can be sodden with ice and snow and water, frankly the same goes for your
lawn incidentally, however I find it much more
difficult to stay off the lawn because if you want to be walking around your
yard, you’re often walking on the lawn, but suffice to say the less treading you do
in your garden on top of anything that is soil, the better. And do go across to
The Impatient Gardener to see what the key winter gardening tasks are that we
both think you really do have to do, because between her garden in zone 5b
and my garden in zone 9 there’ll be some good advice for your temperate garden
wherever you are in the northern hemisphere or the southern part of the
southern hemisphere. And if you’ve enjoyed this do please hit ‘like’ because
then I’ll know you’d like more practical gardening advice and if you’d like tips,
ideas and inspiration for your middle-sized garden then do subscribe to
the Middle-sized Garden Youtube channel and thank you for watching, goodbye!

23 thoughts on “Winter gardening – what NOT to do with Erin & Alexandra

  1. Question
    I have azaleas in my landscaping for the first year im in north Georgia we had cold weather already and it's November I noticed the leaves on my azaleas in the front of the yard are brown is this normal for the leaves to do that?

  2. Great video. I'm in zone 7, and a friend who lives less than a mile away gets her first frost two weeks earlier and last frost two weeks later than me, simply because I live on a slight hill and she lives in a slight valley, and I'm a half mile closer to the ocean, so the warming effects of the Atlantic just manage to reach my garden.

  3. Two of my favorite channels to watch, both of your gardens are gorgeous and full of inspiration, and excellent video as always Alexandra 👏

  4. It is tempting to prune too early just to be doing something. I’m glad I discovered winter sowing in juice jugs so that I can start my perennial seeds in February in here in Zone 8🌿. Also to help with plant deprivation disorder we have a fern terrarium.🌿

  5. This was rather interesting, I'm glad I live in Maryland tho, zone 7, altho sometimes I wonder if it really is, as the winters aren't as cold as they use to be, as well as not getting as cold as early as it use to. I have also seen people using a and b with the zone number. Funny tho I'm not sure which is for which, is "a'"colder or warmer then b.?

  6. So nice that you did a collaboration with Erin. I love both your channels!! I garden in an area of the United States that is only slightly colder than your area in the UK. I'm in the Seattle area, zone 8B. I'm less than a mile inland from the Puget Sound and our maritime climate keeps it very temperate here in the winter.

  7. I completely agree about really getting to know your gardens micro climate. I have friends that are 10 minutes away that are a good 10 degrees warmer than I all year round though they are considered the same zone. Of course, I live in the mountains so it is a drop in elevation of 1500 feet from my house to theirs.

  8. Ideal tips for our garden as we are only 6 miles from Faversham albeit that it gets a bit colder up here on the Downs

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