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Winter gardening tips for Madison, WI

How to prepare your garden and what to plant in the winter months.

Gloved hands plant a row of lettuce into soil.

Lettuce help you get growing. | Photo by ATXtoday

Table of Contents

Be-leaf it or not, January is a good time to get gardening. Now is the time to shop seeds, do some routine maintenance, and even sow certain plants.

🌱 Spring for seeds

Peruse seed catalogs and grab those springtime favorites that are so popular they tend to sell out come the thaw. We’re talking seeds like snap peas, radishes, specialty lettuces, and heirloom tomatoes. You can also get your wishlist going for the spring planting of fall bulbs like hostas, gladiolas, and dahlias.

Check out these local spots to nab your favorites:

🌱 Get growing

While you’re at the nursery, grab some seeds that you can plant right now (or, at least, very soon). Use this tool to calculate when to sow some of these early-season crops:

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Lettuce

Can’t wait for that final frost date? Now is a good time to prep your seed trays. Clean and organize your trays, then sow these plants indoors with a growing light to be moved outdoors when the time is right.

🌱 Routine maintenance

Every green thumb knows that a garden is more than just its plants. Here’s your winter checklist:

  • Trim and tidy | Toss out any plants that didn’t survive last year and start fresh.
  • Take care of your tools | Sharpen your pruners and clean your trowels or treat yourself to a new tool set.
  • Test your soil | Apply your compost, but don’t forget to test your soil to make sure you aren’t missing any nutrients. A soil test kit can help you out here.
  • Prepare for frost | Be prepared for any cold fronts by making sure your watering system is ready for any deep freezes and stocking up on row covers.
  • Plan your beds | Get out your graph paper and dream up your ideal garden.

What was your most successful plant last year? Lettuce know and you might be featured in an upcoming newsletter.