Carrots will taste sweeter if you harvest them directly from the garden after cold weather arrives. I mulch over my plants with a few inches of straw. When I want to harvest a few carrots, I brush back the straw, dig the carrots, and then replace the straw mulch. You can use this same technique for parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips.
Plan for Spring
Mail-order catalogs are great sources of information for new and unusual varieties of plants, and they contain colorful pictures for added inspiration. I have a wonderful time soaking up information and planning my spring garden during the cold, gray days of winter. Planning for spring really chases away the winter blues!
Keep Bird Feeders Clean
Keep bird feeders filled with a fresh supply of seeds, especially black oil sunflower seeds. Clean the feeder every few weeks to help prevent the spread of disease. I keep my feathered friends healthy and happy with a supply of clean water, too. Birdbaths can be emptied and refilled daily to keep them from freezing.
Use Salt Deicers with Caution
If you use deicing salts to remove ice from sidewalks, pathways, and driveways, remember that many of these chemical treatments are toxic to shrubs, flowers, and turf grasses. Products that contain rock salt or sodium chloride can accumulate in the soil and burn plant roots. Sand is a good alternative to deicing salts, but if you decide to use chemical de-icers, look for products containing materials such as potassium chloride or calcium chloride. While these are less toxic, it\'s still important to read and follow label directions and avoid over-using near landscape plants.
Research New Plants
I always enjoy including new plants in my garden, so each winter I pour over the latest plant and nursery catalogs in search of new varieties that might grow well in my garden. If you'd like to try something new, choose plants that are current AAS winners. All America Selections (AAS) are grown and evaluated in public test gardens throughout the country, and all have performed well under a variety of growing conditions. These proven winners may add that "newness" you want.