Beating Winter Blues

— Written By and last updated by Elisabeth Purser
en Español / em Português

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Sad Face in SnowSometimes, during the winter, people tend to get somewhat depressed in the due to our shorter days and less sunlight. The condition actually has a name, Seasonal Affective Disorder. The  reduced sunlight may disrupt your internal clock and a drop in the serotonin level may also play a part in this disorder. So how to do your avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder? Get outside and into your yard and garden! 

Did you know that six hours of gardening a week can help boost your mood? Another benefit to winter gardening is the added exercise. Most people tend to stay indoors longer in winter than they do during summer seasons, so winter gardening is a good excuse to get outside and be active.

There are many chores you can perform this time of year. Pull the winter annual weeds that may have popped up in your lawn or ornamental bed. Many seeds can be sown directly in the ground during the winter months. No grow lights are needed and seeds sown outside in the winter require no coddling. Look for words on the package such as “needs pre-chilling”, “self-sows”, “hardy” or “needs stratification” for hints as to which seeds work best.

Assess your trees and shrubs. When the leaves are off deciduous trees in the winter, it is a good time to access their pruning needs. Late winter or early spring, before bud break, is a good time to prune many species because callus tissue forms rapidly. Avoid pruning redbud, dogwood, cherry, plum, and crabapple, as they form buds on old wood so pruning on these trees should be done after they bloom.

Watering is often forgotten about during the winter months. Dry air, low precipitation, wind, and fluctuating temperatures can affect many trees, shrubs and perennials. Evergreens are especially susceptible to drying out and may be damaged if they do not receive supplemental water. Water only when the air temperatures are above 40°. Mid-day is the best time to apply water so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night. Newly planted trees are most susceptible to winter drought injury, so pay particular attention to those plants in your landscape.

Join the Union County Extension Master Gardeners for their first Successful Gardener Program of 2022 on Jan 6, at 7 p.m. via a live online presentation. Extension Master Gardener, Kristyna Culp will discuss,  “Where’s My Garden” with tips on selecting a proper site for your vegetable garden, addressing soil erosion, and planting near power lines, septic fields, and other trouble spots. Visit the Union County Master Gardeners website, for information and the link for the program.