Saturday, September 22, 2012

Getting Winter Ready

   The Pond Plant Girl

Get Ready in September
Whether you have a land garden or a water garden, September is the time to start preparing any garden for the upcoming winter. In many regions, winter does not fully set in until January or February. In other regions winter sets in as early as late September or early October. Although it may be warm during the day, night time temperatures can be a killer for valuable plants.

Tropical Plants
The first plants to begin with are the tropical plants. A garden friend in Ohio prepares his tropical banana plants by burying LED Christmas tree lights and cropping the plants down for the season. Then, he mulches over the pile to protect the ground from freezing. Tropical pond plants must be grown in a warm greenhouse or allowed to go dormant and placed in a black plastic garbage bag a[p nd put in cool storage safe from frost and freeze.

Greenhouse Growing
Last year I tried growing plants in my greenhouse and all my plants died. The ones kept outside and were allowed to go dormant came back in the springtime. So, greenhouse growing is a new animal to me and I am still learning. Raw Manure Heating Some growers lay down raw cow manure. Then build a raised bed to grow their winter crops. The manure keeps the vegetable bed warm for most of the season.

Hoop House Growing
Most of my ponds and vegetable gardens will be covered with hoop houses this year.  It is simply PVC pipe bent over and covered with durable plastic.  I’ve learned over the years that 6 mil plastic is superior over 4 mil plastic because it keeps in more heat. However, 6 mil plastic is not transparent. This year, I plan to use thick visqueen plastic from an online supplier. It is thick clear plastic sheeting that is used for insulating windows. In hard cold winter areas, I would suggest using 2 layers of visqueen with 1 inch bubble wrap insulation in between the sheets.

Greenhouse and Hoop house Circulation
When it comes to any type of greenhouse, air circulation is very important. This can be accomplished with a simple tabletop fan. Without air circulation, mold and mildew will develop on the plants; which will destroy your stock.

Fertilizing Plants
Winter is a time when the pond fish slow down and go somewhat dormant. This also means there is little fish excrement for growing pond plants. If you are keeping your water hyacinth and water lettuce plants through the winter, remember they will also need aquatic plant fertilizer at least one to two times per month.