I suppose you can’t really consider “winter” as even a season in the south. But there is a bit of a down period, in which you can plan, purchase for and prepare your southern homestead for the upcoming spring.
The south is generally USDA Hardiness zones 7 through 9 but excluding the coastal regions. The states considered the south are: Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansa, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. These states experiences limited amounts of snow and ice. First frost is usually in November, early or late depending on your state and zone, which ends all of the heat loving crops such as tomatoes.
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Here are some tasks to accomplish in the months of December, January and February in the south in order to have a full and productive spring.
Order and Plant Fruit Trees and Bushes
Do it now. If you plan to add any fruits (except for fruits such as melons) go ahead and order or buy from a local nursery. While the trees go dormant during the winter, even in the south, the best time to get them and put them in the ground is now.
Don’t be concerned if they look a little sad. They will not have leaves or fruit and probably be pretty small with few branches. This is because all the heavy lifting is going on the roots right now. Get them in the ground and you’ll be happy in the spring with those first delicate flowers.
Sew, knit, crochet
Its usually during this time I will ramp up a craft activity. I prefer the fabrics and creating blankets but the rainy weather (that is winter in the south) and the cooler temperatures make it a cozy hygge worthy activity. Pick good yarn and a nice pattern and you are good to go.
Want to replace items from the grocery store? How about making unpaper towels and officially remove that from your budget and make a fun homemade item at the same time!
As you bring in the last of the garden, be sure to do your canning and curing now. Find a dark, cool spot for the winter squashes and can up the last of those green tomatoes. Chow chow anyone? This is also the time many people hunt for their food so be sure to clear out space in the freezer. Or try your hand at charcuterie.
Winterize your animals
While there may never been 6 feet of snow and the barn is just a dry place without heat, be sure to add a little extra bedding or cover your coop with tarp to help with the lowest temperatures. Every year here in northwest Louisiana we have had some kind of winter weather, including snow, and temperatures that fall below 20.
The ground won’t freeze, but the animals might want extra scratch and goodies through the coldest days. Beware of heavy rainfall and flooding during this time.
Even though the growing season is basically year round, you and your garden may need a rest. Take the time and enjoy the hard work of the last year. Let the garden bed die out on its own, let the leaves fall. Don’t hurry to clear and cut everything. All the bugs and birds needing a little extra will be glad you (even if your neighbors aren’t) you left the plants in a little too long
I get pretty excited this time of year. Almost more so than when the gardens (and awful pests) are in full swing in the spring and summer. Why? Because of THE PLAN. Yep, its really great. Creating, thinking, planning and dreaming are almost as rewarding as reaping the benefits in July.
Plan your spring garden and perennials now. Because this is the south, you can also plan a fall garden, but I would wait until you see how spring and summer treated your garden. Plan where you would like that 10 year asparagus commitment to go and the earliest spring veggies can begin (which for some will start at the beginning of February). If you want help, subscribe and I’ll send you a time management workbook to help you get it all done.
If you’re lucky, some plants, like kale, cabbage and even beets and carrots (though their tops will die back) will hang on and you can harvest when necessary. My kale made it all the way through the fall and into the summer before bolting. I decided to collect seeds from it and have been very successful having around all year.
What do you do during the winter? Hope this helps you plan your best homestead and make the most of your time. Happy winter!
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