Gardening with Greta (January)
Back in the fall, we met up with one of Coastal’s favorite gardeners, Greta Ropp. She and her family understand how to work their land and get the most from every acre. Here’s what Greta is doing in her garden this time of year, along with a few tips to help you maximize your homestead.
A few months ago, Greta shared a trick called no-till gardening. Since then, the soil has become increasingly enriched and weed-free – ready for spring planting. But while that soil cooks a while longer, Greta has some other outdoor chores to take care of, including mulching in the garden, planning what to plant, pruning the fruit trees and berries, along with taking cuttings from trees to be grafted in the spring.
Mulching is Important.
Whether you did a no-till garden or you simply pulled the weeds and let your ground sit over winter, mulching is important. Greta has several compost piles at once. In the spring, she will add some of the mulch created from that compost to the garden. The goal is to boost the summertime bounty. Additionally, you can add wood mulch around shrubs and small trees now to add nitrogen to the soil and improve growth in the spring. See the ABCs of Composting for more about creating your own garden mulch.
Knowing what you want to plant is an important step in any successful garden. Greta suggests planning based on sunlight and space. Plan by rows in the garden, or areas on your property. Additionally, get your starts going now for early planting in the spring. Early starts can include tomatoes, peppers, perennial flowers, and herbs. Check out our video Starting your Seeds Indoors for more.
Prune and Take Cuttings from Your Fruit Trees
This is the perfect time to prune your fruit-bearing trees. Doing it this time of year helps ensure a tree’s health and can improve the bounty. Start by removing the dead, diseased, and damaged branches. You’ll also want to trim out any vertical branches. If you’re not sure how to properly prune a tree, check out our video. Cuttings or grafting of fruit trees is another technique the Ropp family utilizes on their land. Greta will take some careful cuttings this time of year and then graft them in the spring. Grafting is a technique that combines one plant part with another. In the case of trees, it is a great way to get new fruit in a year or two. The step-by-step process is relatively straightforward. Check out How to Graft Your Fruit Trees for more.
Prune the Raspberries (and other fruit)
Winter is a great time to trim back one of the most weed-like crops in any garden – the raspberries. The goal is to un-crowd them to ensure they don’t compete with themselves for sunlight.
The Ropp family prefers everbearing raspberries as well as everbearing strawberries. These varieties make it easier to do small, weekly or bi-weekly batches when freezing or canning as opposed to one large batch with other plants.