(ARA) – Craving a means to keep your gardening thrill growing year-round? Why not take some tips from NASCAR’s “Mr. Excitement”?
Jimmy Spencer, one of NASCAR’s most colorful figures and co-host of Speed Channel’s “NASCAR RaceDay,” is also an avid, expert gardener. Residing with his family in North Carolina, Spencer spends much of his down time cultivating the beautiful, woodland-style gardens on his 2 1/2-acre property. And when the long North Carolina growing season finally ends, Spencer turns his attention to preparing for spring – all winter long.
“I’m thinking about and working on my garden all year ’round,” Spencer says. “There are so many things you should do during the fall and winter to prepare for spring, so that when the time is right, you’re ready to give your garden a good start.”
From necessary jobs like cleaning, sharpening and repairing gardening tools, to fun activities such as decorating flower pots, winter gardening preparations are a great way to keep your hobby going and involve the whole family, Spencer says. Here are some ways Spencer keeps his gardening hobby going throughout the dormant seasons:
* Prune and cut back shrubs and bushes as soon as they become dormant.
* Rake all the leaves from your lawn and garden. It’s great exercise, leaves your lawn looking clean and attractive, and the leaves are good material for your mulch bin, Spencer says.
* Remove from the ground any plants or bulbs that can’t weather the winter outdoors. Also, remove, put in pots and bring indoors any plants you plan to relocate in the spring. Plants brought indoors can be left in your garage, if the temperature inside never drops below 50 degrees. Or, you can store plants in your basement, as long as they receive some sunlight. “They don’t need a lot, but they do need some sun,” Spencer says. “Come January, February, March, when the sun starts to shine a little more, you’ll see the plants start to sprout again.”
* Mark all the plants in your garden before they go dormant, so you will know what they are come spring.
* Aerate and reseed your lawn in September.
* Use your favorite indoor work area – your garage or basement – to clean, repair and refurbish all your garden tools. Sharpen shovels and hoes. Wash pots. Repair and repaint outdoor furniture and garden decorations.
* Bring in and clean up bird houses and bird feeders. Clean bird houses by brushing off dirt and debris. Never wash them. Bird feeders can be washed in warm water and mild soap.
* Create a garden plan for next year. Make a sketch of your house and garden, noting where you have planted flowers, shrubs, etc. Update your plan with what you want to do come spring. This is a great way to involve the family, Spencer notes, by including your spouse and children in the planning process.
* Research plants and landscaping plans. Use resources such as the Internet, libraries, local garden centers and even TV landscaping shows to further develop your planting plan for next spring.
* Spend some time on creative projects, such as decorating pots, building new birdfeeders or houses, etc. This is another great way to get the kids involved by encouraging them to participate in the building process.
* Prepare your soil mixture. “The biggest mistake you can make is to not prepare your soil properly,” Spencer says. Purchase your manure, compost and topsoil in advance, mix and store in a cool, dry place. Spencer suggests that the plastic bags birdseed comes in make great containers for your pre-mixed soil.
* Keep composting. Put all your vegetable waste and yard debris (but no animal fats or weeds) into your mulch pile.
* Engage your children in a craft project for the garden. Decorate flower pots together. Build a birdhouse, bird feeder or trellis. The project will not only produce an enhancement for your garden, but lasting memories as well. “My son built a bird house in third grade,” Spencer says. “I still have it hanging in my garden. It’s an average bird house, but it will always be special for my son and me.”
* Scout flea markets for bargains on flower pots, patio furniture, tools and ornaments.
“Your touch is what makes your garden different,” Spencer says. “Everything you do during the winter to prepare for the spring makes your garden that much more special for you and your family.”
Courtesy of ARA Content