Winter a Good Time to Plan Ahead for Upcoming Gardening Season

While winter is not prime gardening season there are winter activities that impact the garden...

Some things that you should avoid or be careful about doing

  • Be careful when applying ice melting products. Most of these products are salts that can build up in the soil adjacent to your walks. Spring rains help to dilute moderate salt applications, but excessive applications will leave enough salt to negatively impact plants growing nearby.
  • Stay out of garden areas when the soil is soft and wet. Compacting garden soil has long term negative impacts on plants. Compaction stops water and roots from penetrating into the soil. The result is that plants stay small and are unable to tolerate stress.
  • Do not apply lime or manure to frozen soil. Wait until the soil is not frozen to make the application.

Activities that you should be doing.

  • Now that plants are completely dormant you can start dormant pruning. Start with your grape vines, then apples and pears. The ideal time to prune apples and pears in the end of February and the entire month of March. Cherry and plum trees can be pruned in late March. Peach and nectarine trees should not be pruned until mid to late April.
  • Continue to collect organic materials to put into your compost or apply directly to the garden. Kitchen scraps and leaves are easily accessible and are a great addition to garden soil.
  • Spend some time studying your seed and nursery catalogs. Look for varieties that have good disease tolerance or resistance. Selecting a cucumber or squash variety that has resistance to mildew, for example, can make a big difference.
  • Learn what cultural practices will help improve your garden. Does the plant you plan to put into your garden like a high pH or a low pH? Keep in mind that once lime has been applied to raise the soil pH or sulfur has been applied to lower the pH, it takes about twelve months for the pH to change.

For more information contact your local extension office. In Lackawanna County call 570-963-6842 or email

Contact Information

John Esslinger
  • Horticulture Extension
Phone: 570-316-6516