The Landless Gardener Returns!

Horticulture‘s former managing editor, Jennifer Smith, use to blog under the category: Adventures of a Landless Gardener. Jennifer will be rejoining us with regular gardening blog posts for 2018. She’s starting off the new year with the following tips to help us through the winter months.

What to Do in Winter When You’re a Landless Gardener

Happy New Year, my gardening friends. I am pleased as punch to be back with you sharing my notes on gardening as the landless gardener. I love the beginning of a new gardening year when we are full of expectations, grand ideas and have already forgotten just how much hard work gardening can be. What backache and sore hands?

landless gardener

The Secret Garden at Bettman Nature Preserve in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo credit: Jennifer Smith

My gardening space at Bettman continues to grow despite my repeated claims that I shall take on no more gardens. Last year I mostly worked in an area called the prairie, a space roughly 85×40 feet. The edges were planted, more weeds removed and the front corner enhanced to make the entrance more inviting.

This year the entire area is mine to tend however I like. For a landless gardener who lives in a high-rise condo, this windfall of new gardening space has me thinking of tips to share as I plot and plan.

Garden Year-Round

Before the deep freeze set in a few weeks back here in southwestern Ohio, I was at my USDA Zone 6 garden trimming and pulling ivy and pruning shrubs. I even planted trees and shrubs in one of the new garden spaces.

If frozen soil and a covering of snow are keeping you inside, there is still gardening work to be done:

  1. Read everything garden related you can get your hands on, and research new plant introductions as well as pests and diseases that may be affecting your gardening area.
  2. Study your garden photos for guidance on what needs to be revised in the garden so when the snow does melt, you’re ready to hit the soil running.

Break it Down into Manageable Chores

If the size of your garden space is intimidating, break it down into manageable pieces. My new space at Bettman is too generous to renovate in one season. Cost, labor and time restrictions make it far more practical to create smaller garden rooms or vignettes within the garden. By drawing the space to scale, I can easily see where areas can be transformed to create mini-gardens, allowing me to create different garden experiences within the space.

landless gardener

The Prairie area at Bettman Nature Preserve in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo credit: Jennifer Smith

Get a Jump-Start With Seeds

If you have the space and equipment at home, try starting a few seeds indoors. Sometimes a few seedlings to tend is enough to ward off the cabin fever of winter and gardening withdrawal.

Jennifer Smith is a horticulturist, garden writer and photographer for Wimberg Landscaping, a Cincinnati-based landscaping firm. She is also the former managing editor of Horticulture.

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