Gardening tasks that can still be done in all this snow

The best laid Plans o' Mice an' Men, gang aft agley

Well the weather of the last three weeks couldn't have upset my garden plans much more.
Winter is when I get caught up with the garden, gather leaves, clean out streams, make new garden beds, remove old and dead branches from trees and shrubs..... but with at least a foot of hard snow over everything and glazed ice on the branches its no-go, so what can you do!!

Inside, the first seeds can be sown, onions and parsley need an early start in a heated propagater, and there are a number of seeds that benefit from a period of cold to get them to germinate.
You can also write the labels for all the other things you will be sowing when spring comes along, that will be a time consuming chore done, as long as you remember where you've put them.

Outside, after every new snowfall, gently shake the snow of your favourite shrubs and small trees so that
 they dont break with the weight. If you have plastic tunnels, do the same, because even if your hoops can take the strain, a load of snow and ice will stretch the plastic and shorten its life. With weaker hoops, put some timber props under them, you can remove them when the snow is over so they wont get in the way.

My favourite job in these conditions is a bonfire.
All the years non-compostable branches have been piled and maybe even covered, and if you
knock the cap of snow off, they will be relatively dry underneath.

Here are some common sense do's and dont's to watch out for.
  1. Don't burn the heap where it is, it might have creatures living in or under it.
  2. Make sure you've got a spot to burn near your heap, but well clear of any sheds, fences, seats etc. Dead ferns, grasses, heather beds and conifers are all plants that are very combustable even under a cap of snow.
  3. Check the wind direction, I have found that smoke is not welcomed in the house or washing line.
  4. Check the forecast, you don't want a wind change or a gale getting up.
  5. Check with your neighbours and offer to burn small amounts they may have, if they bring them over, its a fine excuse for finishing off the mulled wine and chrismas cake. (Not that I would be condoning combing fire and alcohol)
  6. When lighting the fire, dont use petrol or artificial fire lighters, as apart from the safety aspect, you wont be able to use the ash as fertiliser.
  7. When it is down to a glowing heap, use it for an impromptue BBQ, but dont be tempted to leave it over night, the wind can get up, sparks can fly, neighbours alarmed, fire brigade called, insurance agents panicked......
  8. Cover the dead fire with a layer of soil and a piece of metal on top to keep the ash dry.
  9. Save the ash in a dry place until spring when it can be applied around fruit trees and bushes where it will be of most benefit.
  10. And of course my inner health and safety officer must remind you to supervise all pets and children at all times and never leave the fire unattended, now go forth and become pryromaniacs :o)


  1. First, I love your auricula montage! Second, what a cheery post despite the vagaries of the weather recently. A bonfire always sounds like a good idea to me, especially with the snow to keep it corralled.

  2. Wow is that a frozen waterfall? Beautiful. Lovely old dog too. Good idea on the seed sowing and labelling, maybe I'll be more organised this year!

  3. Excellent advice and beautiful photos!

  4. A snipit of one of my favorite poets will always make me smile! :)

    Neighbors of ours burned down our yard and almost our house once with a yard fire one day that burned itself out only to be reignited by winds the next. I work by the firehouse and made a snide comment to a coworker that the truck that went blazing out of there was going to her house. Little did I know it was going to mine!!!

  5. Cat, this is looking like Canada, lol.

  6. thats a stunning waterfall picture - I used to see a few as I drove on the A9 last winter - thankfully did not have to do it up your way this winter - I might not have got back down again for a few days!

  7. Oh how I wish I could have a roaring bonfire in the winter. Sadly I live within city limits and they have nixed any fires at all. So all of my garden waste must be composted (not a bad thing). Branches and such go off to a composting company who grinds it all up, composts it and then sells it back to me in the spring at outrageously high prices.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. Good Work.

  8. Hello, I came across your blog after a recent visit to pencil & leaf. I'm really looking forward to seeing your beautiful garden throughout the seasons, and hope to gather some inspiration for my own not so beautiful one!
    Best wishes

  9. What a fabulous blog! I just found you over at blotanical. Your photos of the waterfall and the running dogs are stellar!! Breathtaking waterfall. I love to burn too and we must have fire permits here in Massachusetts... It is a favorite ritual and at the end we usually have a cook out. Great safety tips! Wondrous paradise you live in! Tickled to have found you! ;>))

  10. Nice pictures, I use to love having bonfires out at our country home when I was younger. Living in the city so prob not best place to be having one, no matter how much I like blue flashing lights:)

  11. Firstly, I've just found your blog and I love it. So please excuse me for making a few additional suggestions about winter bonfires.

    Try and build the bonfire as close to the time you're going to burn it as possible to reduce the chance of beasties moving in.

    Ideally make your pile of material next to the bonfire site and re-build the stack prior to lighting.

    Before lighting, search the bonfire for hibernating creatures using a torch and rake, to gently pull back twigs or vegetation.

    Move any hedgehogs found to a ready-made hedgehog box or somewhere dry and safe away from the fire.

    If possible, before building the bonfire, create alternative homes by placing some boxes (for hedgehogs) or log piles (for creepie crawlies) in the surrounding area or raking up grass cuttings or autumn leaves into a pile a safe distance from the fire. Hopefully wild things will occupy these rather than the bonfire.


Thank you for leaving a comment - it is always great to hear about other peoples gardens and lives. If you ever drop by the nursery, make sure you say hello. (Margaret & Donald)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...