It’s clear that winter in Iowa is a good time for hibernating. When December rolls around you’ve shut down your summer garden and moved what you can indoors. It’s dark in the morning when you go to work and dark when you come home at night. Then there’s the weather rollercoaster. For a while, it’s warm, then cool, then frigid, and by the time you’ve gotten used to your big winter coat again, it goes back up into the 40s.
If the Iowa weather rollercoaster doesn’t drive you nuts, staying cooped up indoors will. Some days you feel lethargic and full of winter gloom, so staying inside in your comfy sweatpants with a cup of tea sound pretty good. But on other days, you feel anxious and frustrated. When this happens, it’s important to do what you can outside of the house. All of this claustrophobia you’re feeling translates into one thing: cabin fever.
Though Iowa winters can vary from year to year, February is usually steadfast. We can tell spring is coming but it’s still dark, though it’s getting lighter, and the ground is still cold and wet. Since it’s not yet time to sow, this colder weather can drive us gardeners crazy. We thrive on being in the sun, tending to our plants, and harvesting when the time comes. And to be honest, all humans benefit from being outside instead of cooped up indoors.
So what is a sun-loving, tree-pruning, plant-hugging gardener to do in the dead of winter? For one, don’t lose hope! Winter won’t last forever.
There are several ways to make the frigid months go by faster and gear you up for the next planting season. Check out what we’ve come up with.
Admire pictures of your summer garden
Taking down your summer garden doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy it. Research suggests that looking at photos and actively reminiscing about your vacation can prolong that happy feeling, so why not do this with your garden? If you’re an active gardener who snaps pics to keep track of the progress your garden has made throughout the season, take some time to go back through them. If you’re changing the layout for this coming year, looking back at the photos will help you plan.
Put your plans together
You don’t have to be an accomplished artist to do a little garden sketching. In fact, the colder months are the perfect time to break out the old encyclopedia and draw up your plant list for spring. Be open to expanding your horizons by researching and planting a new species this year.
Prep your tools
As you well know, working in the garden can be quite peaceful, but if you’re like the rest of us you can get distracted. This means that tasks may be done out of order and you don’t realize until later that you tucked your trowel away in the wrong spot or left a bucket of compost lying around. Now is a good time to remove any rust that’s built up on your tools and sharpen them up. Anything with too much rust should be tossed and replaced.