6 of Your Winter Gardening Questions Answered

CSL answers your questions about gardening during the challenging winter season.

Anemone Pastel Mix

City Style and Living 6 of Your Winter Gardening Questions Answered West Coast Seeds Florissa Anemone
/ Courtesy West coast Seeds

West Coast Seeds

CSL Picks: 5/pk,$7.99 (not pictured); Anemone Carmel White, 5/pk, $8.99; westcoastseeds.com

1/ Help! I bought fall bulbs and forgot to plant them.

Most fall bulbs need a period of cold to stimulate growth the following spring when they produce gorgeous blooms. Don’t fret if you have not put them in the ground yet.

There are a few options to salvage them. Either cover the bulbs in peat moss, bury them in vermiculite or place them in gravel – anywhere that they will be kept dry and dark over winter. In late March or April plant them in the ground. CSL had wonderful results with spring planted anemones.

Another option is to plant them in containers filled with soil and stored in your garage. Place the containers outside after Canada’s May long weekend. (A variation is to place the containers outside during winter. As the snow piles up keep shoveling it onto the bulbs. Plant the bulbs in the ground in spring.)

The third option is to plant them outdoors even as late as February and even as the ground is frozen.

City Style and Living 6 of Your Winter Gardening Questions Answered worm castings
/ Courtesy Home Hardware

Pure Life Soil Organic Worm Castings

Home Hardware

CSL Picks: 20 L; 25.99; homehardware.ca

2/ How do I use worm castings?

Worm castings are essentially the manure produced by worms. As they break down organic material, worms create this nutrient-rich waste. In the simplest terms, it is worm excrement (“worm poop”).

There are 3 primary ways to use worm castings to benefit your plants. First, mix 1 part worm casting to 3 parts water and leave it to steep overnight. Water plants (including houseplants) as normal with this mixture.

Second, mix 1 part worm casting and 1 part compost (or potting soil). This mix is ideal for starting seedlings.

Third, simply apply worm castings as mulch to your plants (including houseplants).

At-A-Glance DayMinder 2024 Daily Appointment Book Planner,

City Style and Living 6 of Your Winter Gardening Questions Answered AtAGlanceDayMinderMyDay2024
/ Courtesy Acco


CSL Picks: Black, Small, 5″ x 8″, $33.00; 2024 Weekly Appointment Book Planner, Black, Medium, 7″ x 8 3/4″, $34.00. Both, ataglance.com, accobrands.com.

3/ What is the best way to decide what to plant in spring?

The best way to keep track of your garden successes and failures is through a garden journal. The act of writing it down will help you plan, analyze and organize and makes for easy reference.

Winter is the perfect time to begin. Take an inventory of your existing seeds, trees, and bushes. Draw a sketch of your garden layout. Then, make a wish list of plants you would like to grow in your zone and for your upcoming growing season (the time between the last frost to the first frost) and sketch how you would like your garden to look including colour, fragrance, fruit, vegetables and blooms.

Every time you plant a seed, prepare the soil, or make any adjustments, note this is your daily journal. Next to each plant, jot down your observations: what type of soil it likes, how much sun it needs and any other pertinent growing information. This will allow you to track the progress of your plants throughout the season and decide what to plant the following year.

Fritillaria Red Beauty

City Style and Living 6 of Your Winter Gardening Questions Answered West Coast Seeds Florissa Fritillaria-Red-Beauty
/ Courtesy West Coast Seeds

West Coast Seeds

CSL Picks: 1/pk, $9.99; westcoastseeds.com

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4/ Any suggestions for a deer and squirrel-resistant fall bulb that will look great in my garden?

One of the most spectacular spring flowering bulbs is Fritillaria imperialis. Part of the lily family, the plant exudes a foxy scent that may deter deer and squirrels. Native to Iran, Turkey, India and Pakistan, the bowing heads and rich red of these flowers makes for an unusual sight in the home garden. Although it is slightly more expensive than better-known bulbs like tulips and daffodils, it is certainly a conversation starter.

City Style and Living 6 of Your Winter Gardening Questions Answered Now Foods Zesty Sprouting Mix
/ Courtesy Now Foods

City Style and Living 6 of Your Winter Gardening Questions Answered West Coast Seeds Sprouting Mason Jar With Metal Lid
/ Courtesy West coast Seeds

Sprouting Jar with Metal Lid and Seeds

City Style and Living 6 of Your Winter Gardening Questions Answered West Coast Seeds Sprouting-Jar-with-Metal-Lid-
/ Courtesy West coast Seeds

West Coast Seeds

CSL Picks: Sprouting jar with metal lid and seeds, $26.49; westcoastseeds.com.
Now Foods Zesty Sprouting Mix, $12.79; nowfoods.ca

5/ How can I grow fresh vegetables during winter?

Sprouts are one of the best ways to continue indoor ‘gardening’ in winter and grow your own nutritious vegetables. Begin by filling a mason jar with boiling water to sanitize. Let sit for 1-2 minutes, then drain and allow to air dry and cool. Place 2 tablespoons sprouting seeds in the jar and cover with water until a quarter way full. Cover with metal screen and ring. Leave for about 5 hours. Drain water through screen and refill with fresh water swirling the seeds. Flip the jar upside down to drain thoroughly.  Using a rolling motion, separate seeds while adhering them to the sides of the jar. Place jar in a bowl at an acute angle (45-degree). Keep jar out of direct sunlight. Repeat refilling with water and draining twice a day for 4-6 days or until sprouts fill the entire jar. Sprouts will keep in fridge on kitchen towel for several days.  

City Style and Living 6 of Your Winter Gardening Questions Answered metal container
/ K&S Media

6/ How can I have a beautiful garden on a budget?

According to TurfMutt Foundation, pick cold-hardy perennials, that is, plants which you only have to buy once but which return year after year. Choose native plants – those that occur naturally in your region. They are more likely to thrive in your micro-climate without much maintenance or watering. They are also better for local wildlife and pollinators and help preserve the balance of the natural ecosystem. Look for deals as many nurseries and home improvement stores offer end-of-season sales on landscaping essentials.

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This original article first appeared in the Winter 2023/24 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.

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