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Winter Pruning: A Guide for Your Garden

While the winter chill is still in the air, it is time to prepare for your spring garden. A top priority on your list should be to prune your shrubs and trees before new growth and buds come to life. This is important to do in late winter or early spring because trees and shrubs are in a state of dormancy. Dormancy protects the plants from cold temperatures and helps the plant focus energy on new spring growth. So when you start the pruning process, your trees and shrubs will actually be encouraged to grow.

What is Pruning?

Pruning is simply the cutting back of old, dead, diseased, or unwanted limbs or branches of a tree or shrub. This process allows you to shape your plants before new growth happens. If there is a hole in a shrub or hedge you would like to fill, you can actually prune the area surrounding the hole to encourage new growth in that bare spot.

Tree Pruning

When pruning your trees in late winter focus on removing branches that have been damaged by harsh winter winds, ice, or heavy snows. These weak, damaged branches are more likely to break apart or tear off the tree if not removed. This could cause lasting damage to your tree. So go ahead and just remove them.

To prune your trees correctly, cut close to the trunk but not right against it – leave a few inches. Then, carefully remove the damaged branch. Make a small undercut and then slice down from above to meet the first cut. This method will ensure the bark does not tear. 

Wondering what trees need to be pruned? Here are a few to note…

  • Evergreens (spruce, fir)
  • Oak
  • Sweetgum
  • Maple
  • Katsura 
  • Hornbeam
  • Dogwoods

Pro Tip: If your trees are young, they need to be pruned earlier. This will help them grow more branches from the base of the tree.

Shrub Pruning

Pruning shrubs and hedges also help them develop and grow. The goal is to thin out old wood and remove branches so new ones can grow in. First, you want to start with branches near the ground, these can cause damage to nearby concrete walkways, be a tripping hazard, or even interfere with your house. Start there and get rid of those! Then, you can work your way up towards the top.

Make sure to never cut your shrubs or hedges in a horizontal line. This will lead to a thinning of the plants. You want to make cuts here and there, cutting some branches back hard and leaving healthy ones to grow and flourish.

Pro Tip: If your shrubs flower or bloom, you will want to wait to prune those until spring or summer.

How to Prune

  1. Gather clean, sharp tools
  2. Make precise cuts… all cuts should go back to a bud, branch, or the main trunk.
  3. Paint all cuts over 1″ to 2″ in diameter with a protective paint
  4. Disinfect tools after each cut on diseased plant… an alcohol-based disinfectant will work.

Voila! Repeat this process throughout your garden and then your trees and shrubs will be ready for springtime. When you’re done pruning, go ahead and mist Ultra® onto your freshly groomed plants. Ultra® is our organic prebiotic which helps maximize growth and production in the soil, seed, roots, and plant foliage.  This will lead to strong, healthy buds and new growth when the spring arrives.


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SOURCES:
Cole, Trevor. “Spring Crop: Unsure about what to Prune Back Now?” Canadian Gardening, vol. 15, no. 2, 04, 2004, pp. 62-65.
Donald Wyman. “PRUNING ORNAMENTAL SHRUBS AND TREES.” Arnoldia. 23.8 (1963): 107–110. Print.
Old Farmer’s Almanac. “Winter Pruning Guide for Trees and Shrubs.” Old Farmer’s Almanac.

It’s Time to Start a Cold Frame

Your garden doesn’t have to suffer during the cold winter months after all the hard work you’ve put into it all spring and summer. Even outside of the prime growing season, a cold frame garden offers a way for you to keep your garden producing without investing in a full-sized greenhouse. Cold frames are a great option during the winter months.

What is a Cold Frame?

A cold frame is a box supporting a transparent top that admits sunlight and typically lifts to provide access to the garden inside. The bottom gives access to garden soil providing the ability for crops to root and dig deeper. To ensure the best location for your cold frame, choose an area that receives both direct sunlight and a well-drained location. You might want to choose a location close to the house so you’re not walking too far in the cold, winter months.

Food for thought… on sunny days, when the temperature rises above 50-degrees Fahrenheit, be sure to vent your cold frame to prevent the excess heat from wilting your plants.

Building a Cold Frame

There are many different DIY ways to make cold frames. From recycled material to things you have laying around the house – if you are looking to build a cold frame, you can do it and have your garden growing in the winter months. Here are three DIY cold frame ideas:

  • Windows: You can find old windows lying around thrift stores or being sold at yard sales! 
  • Straw bales: This is a quick, easy and low-cost way to make a cold frame. It doesn’t require building skills.
  • PVC pipe: Some gardeners prefer to be more creative with a fancier cold frame. Plus, PVC pipes provide a quick clean up at the end of the season.

Best Plants to Grow

To set you up for success, we’ve created a list of plants best to grow in a cold frame. For the best germination, identify your area’s average first frost date. To do this, first, find the days to maturity by looking at the seed packet. Once you do this, count backward to find your planting date.

  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Green onions
  • Kale
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Mustard greens
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnips

Don’t Forget to Add Life

When gro-ing in your cold frame, you want to make sure to give your plants the nutrients they crave. With Bountiful Harvest® your soil and plants will thrive with health, vigor and vitality that you simply can’t get from fertilizers alone. 

Bountiful Harvest® is the same field-proven, university tested formula that commercial growers have been using from AgriGro® for years, re-packaged for easy use by the home gardener. It is a 100% natural, environmentally safe prebiotic that contains macro and micro-nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and complex carbohydrates that benefit both the soil and plants production and health.

To use, apply it directly to the soil, seed, roots and plant foliage to maximize growth and production. Then, watch your cold frame garden come to life!


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SOURCES:
Miller, Elizabeth; Miller, Crow.Countryside and Small Stock Journal;
The Art of Winter Gardening. Waterloo Vol. 83, Iss. 2, (Mar/Apr 1999): 59.

Growing a Winter Garden

Winter has arrived! Depending on where you live, snow more than likely blankets the ground and each time you venture outdoors you’re met with chilly temperatures. But did you know it is possible to garden during the winter months? Sure, there are a few more challenges but it is achievable. Many greens and some other vegetables actually prefer cooler weather to grow.

Winter Garden Greens:
Cauliflower
Kale
Broccoli
Turnips
Cabbage
Brussels sprouts
Collards
Bok cho

Underground Vegetables:
Carrots
Beets
Radishes
Turnips
Onions
Parsnips
Leeks
Potatoes

The Key to Winter Gardening

To achieve the best results with your winter garden you want 90-percent grown by the first frost. Then it can go into cold storage, and you can harvest it as needed throughout the winter. To figure out when to plant or transplant, grab your calendar, start with that type’s maturity date and add 10 days to allow for the shorter fall days. Next, count back from the date of the first expected frost. Whatever date you land on, that is the day your plants should be planted in the garden. 

Pro Tip: When the first frosts come, protect your garden with a thin sheet or row cover.

Adjust for the Temperatures

Depending on the winter weather, temperatures can be brutal from December to March. As the temperatures get colder and winter becomes harsher, you will want to modify your garden to protect it from the cold. 

#1 – Replace light-colored mulch with dark-colored mulch. This will help trap more heat inside the soil.

#2 – Use heat-absorbing compost.

#3 – On nights where the temperature falls into the twenties or below, place plastic on top of your garden and then add an old comforter on top to protect your harvest from the winter elements. But remember to factor in humidity, depending on where you live – humidity could be helpful.

As soon as the morning sun rises, be sure to pull off those blankets and let your garden breathe.

Next Steps…

While it may be too late to grow all the greens and underground vegetables this winter, keep these tips in mind for next year. The process and planning truly begins in the summer and fall. 

Don’t forget your AgriGro products! AgriGro Home provides plant nutrition products that support amazing plant growth and soil health to grow beyond what nature can do on its own. Bountiful Harvest®, Super-Cal®, and Ultra® make a powerful team. Plus, they are all-natural, performance-proven, university tested, and safe to use around children and pets.


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SOURCES:
Miller, Elizabeth; Miller, Crow.Countryside and Small Stock Journal;
The Art of Winter Gardening. Waterloo Vol. 83, Iss. 2, (Mar/Apr 1999): 59.

Creating Garden Compost

When it comes to having a healthy garden it begins in the soil. Healthy soil with healthy Organic Matter matters. It’s in the soil that micro and macro-organisms live and then contribute to creating a healthy environment for plants. If you’re looking to improve your soil, consider adding compost. Compost is a mixture of organic waste that is decomposed and then added to give food and add life to your garden!

How to Get Started

Composting can seem like a chore and feel daunting to tackle, but we’re here to tell you – it’s not! Compost is made up of things that you already have around your house, like food scraps and yard waste. Start with collecting dead leaves, branches and twigs from your yard, then look for greens like grass clippings, vegetable scraps and leftover fruit waste. Lastly, add water – the water will help break down the organic matter. And if you really want to speed up the process, consider adding Indigo® to your compost pile.

Pro Tip: Look to have an equal amount of food scraps and yard waste. This will ensure you have a good balance in your compost. 

Storing Your Compost
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There are different options when it comes to storing your compost pile – you can opt to store it indoors or outside.

Indoor: Store your compost in a large bin with a lid (you can find composting bins at your local home and garden store). Regularly turn and mix the compost. Also, adding water along with Indigo® will help in the decomposition process. The process should take 2-5 weeks.

Note: A well-tended pile of compost will not smell or attract rodents or pests.

Outdoor: When creating an outdoor compost pile, pick a nice dry, shaded spot with a water source nearby. Add yard waste first but make sure it has been moistened before going in the pile. Then add greens, such as grass clippings and food waste. Make sure to bury fruit and vegetable waste at 10-inches deep into your compost pile. 

To cover your pile, use a tarp. This covering will help keep it moist and dark, creating rich compost.

What Should I Add to My Compost Pile?

– Fruits and vegetables
– Eggshells
– Coffee grounds and filters
– Teabags
– Nutshells
– Shredded newspaper
– Cardboard
– Paper
– Yard trimmings

– Grass clippings
– Houseplants
– Hay and straw
– Leaves
– Sawdust
– Wood chips
– Cotton and Wool Rags
– Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
– Hair and fur
– Fireplace ashes

We do not recommend beginners put any of the following in their compost bins:

  • citrus peels: oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit
  • meat or dairy products
  • onions, garlic or leaks
We’re Here to Help

At AgriGro, we believe in “adding life” to your soil, garden, and flowers. To give your garden an extra boost look to Bountiful Harvest® and SuperCal®. This combo makes a powerful team, Bountiful Harvest is university tested and proven to be 100% all-natural and environmentally friendly. It’s a safe PreBiotic that contains macro and micro-nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and complex carbohydrates that benefit both the soil and plant production and health.

SuperCal® provides calcium to your growing plants in the soluble form they require, and while many products claim to supply calcium, none can offer the advantages of SuperCal®. Formulated with a proprietary blend of organic acids, SuperCal® works in the soil to break down unavailable calcium and convert it to an available form that plants can utilize. With SuperCal®, insoluble calcium can be brought into solution, ensuring that your plants have an abundant supply.

With your new composting pile and AgriGro products, you’re sure to see your garden and flowers bloom with success!


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SOURCES:
Raquel Barrena, Xavier Font, Xavier Gabarrell, Antoni Sánchez. Home composting versus industrial composting: Influence of composting system on compost quality with a focus on compost stability. Waste Management. Volume 34, Issue 7, 2014, Pages 1109-1116.
“Composting At Home.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 13 Nov. 2019.

Extend your Homegrown Harvesting into Fall

Fall days are perfect for gardening—it’s cooler, the sun is still shining, you have the occasional rain shower, and the soil is warm. The soil is warmer than in spring, so your plants grow more quickly during this time of year. 

To extend your homegrown harvest through Thanksgiving, you must plant your fall garden before the first frost. Meaning now is the time!

If you live in a part of the country where the first frosts come in November, start planting in September. If you live where frosts start earlier, we suggest going with transplants that are a few weeks old so they will be able to handle the cold weather.

10-12 Weeks Before First Frost

Broccoli and Cabbage: Plant directly in garden beds. If you’re looking for cold-tolerant varieties, consider ‘Blue Wind’ broccoli and savoy-type cabbage.

Brussel sprouts: It is best to grow Brussel sprouts in raised beds since seasons and temperatures are often changing. For best results, plant ½ inch deep and 2 to 3 inches apart.

Carrots: Plant your carrots in late summer. Don’t be afraid to leave them in the ground well into the fall season. Often, they will taste sweeter after a light frost. 

Note: Create a light blanket of mulch over your carrots—this will serve as an insulator during cold nights.

Celery: Celery tends to grow out, space each seed ½ inch deep and at least 24 inches apart in rows. Remember to spend time watering the celery. It needs a fair amount of water to thrive!

Onions: Start onions from seed in midsummer. Plant hardy types like ‘Lisbon White Bunching.’

8-10 Weeks Before First Frost

Arugula: From seedling to harvest, arugula needs only four to six weeks.

Collards and Kale: Plant directly in garden beds. Collards and kale tend to taste best after the first frost.

Lettuce and Greens: It is best to start your lettuce and your greens from indoors. These seeds need a little extra care!

6-8 Weeks Before First Frost

Beets: Before you plant, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. Then, keep planted seeds well watered.

Parsnips: Plant fresh seeds for the best parsnips. Feel free to leave them in the ground for a few frosts before harvesting.

Turnips: Plant turnips directly into the garden; they do not transplant well. Don’t forget, turnips are cool-weather vegetables and can be grown in both fall and spring.

Radishes: As radishes are left in the ground, they sweeten. They can be harvested within three weeks of planting.

Need more great reasons to plant a fall garden? Check out this blog on How to Have Your Best Fall Garden and the benefits you gain for your garden in the coming year. 

It’s time to start planting your fall garden, and we want to help! Our all-natural products are made with you, your family, and even your pets in mind. Bountiful Harvest, SuperCal, and Ultra work in harmony with nature—helping you improve your veggies and soil health. If you’ve been looking to take your harvest to the next level—this is your solution! Happy GROing!

For 20% off your first order of a Home & Garden Combo Pack
use the code welcometoagrigro at checkout !


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SOURCES:
Meyer, S. (2016, Sep). Fall veg planting. Vegetarian Times, , 30
Christopher, T. (2002). Second harvest. Country Living Gardener, 10(5), 97