As the temperatures start to drop, here is the scoop on how to protect your Strawberry plants over the winter!
Our Strawberry plants are Delizzimo variety and they are ever-bearing, so they will come back next year! Because they are so fragile, we must give them some extra protection over the winter.
Timing is everything! You want to wait until the plants are fully dormant. When the temperatures drop below freezing for a few nights in a row, the plants will begin their slumber. For Ontario, this is around November. The plants have gone into dormant when you have a combination of cold temperatures and the plants are looking quite wilted and sad.
In the ground:
Be sure there is no new active growth. Remove any dead or wilted leaflets. Place a thick layer of mulch over the strawberry plants, about 3-5 inches depth. Any material that allows water to drain and air to circulate is good (clean straw or hay, pine needles, etc.).
You can choose to actually move your plants into the ground if you have spare area. Otherwise, use ambient heat to protect them by putting them along the wall of your home. Use the same mulching techniques mentioned above. An unheated garage or shed are also great options. Have them against an inner wall to utilize the ambient heat.
Strawberry plants require water over the winter. Check the soil moisture levels and water just enough to keep the soil slightly damp. Don’t let the soil completely dry out but you also don’t want it soggy.
💜 Prepare Your Lavender for Winter 💜
Our Lavender variety is Hidcote Blue Apex and is a perennial. Here are some tips for preparing your lavender for the winter off-season!
When the plant is fully dormant, it is time! Dormancy is when the plant stops growing and is closely affected by the environment surrounding the plant.
Slow down watering towards the end of the season. Lavender prefers a dry soil, especially for the winter. Once the ground starts to freeze, you do not want ice to form, as it will damage the plant.
If your plant is in the ground:
- Once harvest is complete, a light pruning can help minimize damage from snow. Cut newer stems but avoid cutting the woody parts of the plant. A major pruning can be done later in the spring.
- This type of Lavender is winter-hardy but you should still apply a thin layer of mulch for additional cover (about 1-2 inches).
If your plant is in a pot:
- You can choose to bring your plant inside for the winter. Keep it in a cool, non-freezing location with air circulation. The plant won’t actively grow but still needs lots of sunlight. No fertilizing is needed until the spring.
- If you can’t bring it inside, move the pot near a wall to offer some ambient heat and protection from the wind. An unheated shed or garage works great too!
🌱 COVER CROPS 🌱
Did you know cover crops can provide huge benefits even in your home garden? Cover crops are grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil by creating a ‘cover’ until spring planting season. They are often called “Green Manure” because of their nutrient adding capabilities!
- Manage soil erosion
- Increase organic matter and nutrients
- Help promote activity of earthworms and other beneficial microorganisms
- Loosen soil and improve water, root, and air penetration
- Provide habitat and food for beneficial insects
- Block weed growth
The home gardener should select crops that can be easily incorporated into their garden. Depending on your soil needs, different cover crops provide different benefits. Pairing a legume with a grass is often preferred.
Here are some ideas:
- Annual ryegrass or buckwheat are the best for blocking weeds (but will not help with nitrogen levels)
- Hairy vetch or clover are great legumes that will fix nitrogen in the soil
- Oats will help break up tight soil, prevent erosion, and block weeds
- Oilseed radish is a fast growing annual with large roots that can help with deep compaction
- Field peas, mustard, and barley are also good annual cover crops
If you are unable to plant cover crops this year, simply covering the soil with a tarp, leaves or some sort of mulch for the winter is also very beneficial. It wont give you the nutrients, but it is important to not leave your soil exposed to the winter elements! Cover up and protect any way possible!