Flowers of the Bay - Winter Gardening

The view out your window might not inspire thoughts of gardening and yard work, but believe it or not, now is a great time to start planning for the year ahead.  It probably feels like your garden is at its emptiest right now... all of the year's growth has died back, been cut down or is covered in leaves.  I find this time of year can actually be more inspiring than a full garden.  It is an ideal time to assess the bones or structure of your garden, as the bare ground offers endless possibilities like a blank slate for the coming season. Backdrop items get the chance to be seen and more attention can be given to trees and shrubs that might be forgotten about in high season. We are reminded in the winter that the skeleton structure of a tree can be just as interesting as a full canopy and that planning ahead can help lessen the work load when the time comes.  If you have any great ideas over the winter, you could jot them down in a journal with notes or drawings. If you feel like you just can't wait until spring, winter pots can help tide you over until the spring bulbs arrive. 

Here at the golf course we have many types of gardens, all of which require different attention and planning. The winter break allows us to regroup and assess the year behind us while prioritizing for the year ahead.  This doesn't mean we spend the winter indoors with pen to paper! The closed, frozen course is an invitation for excavating, tree removal and pruning.  We are making an effort to evaluate and make changes to our tree inventory over the winter. Many factors are considered including tree damage or disease, low branches that interfere with mowing or sprinkler coverage, and the overall health and success of a tree.  Think about the trees in your yard - do they touch the roof or eaves? Are they too low for pathways or driveways? Have any grown too large for their planting location? Here at Cordova Bay we are always considering these questions along with many more.

Even throughout the winter, the vegetable garden remains an interesting feature of the golf course horticulture department. This year's seed catalogs have arrived and the dates have been set for local seed exchanges. No patio, balcony or back yard is too small for a window box of Asian greens or a raised bed of carrots and beets.  To many of us the new trend of sustainable or local growing is just that - a new and popular practice. For others, vegetable gardening and succession planting has historically been a household necessity. It doesn't matter whether you were raised with a backyard garden and root cellar, or are just becoming aware of the magic of growing your own food; it is a wonderful hobby that doesn't discriminate against skill level or experience.  

Take time this season to walk through your garden or sit on your patio. Try to envision the summer and what it will look like when your garden is in full bloom.  If you stay ahead of the game you can get to the garden centers before the spring frenzy hits the stores.  Even now there are daffodils poking through the soil! 

I would recommend starting your year with some reading material. The West Coast Seeds Gardening Guide for 2017 is a great start. It is a free crash course in veggies complete with planting charts, seed descriptions and growing instructions. Order it online or find it at your local garden supply center. Take stock of your seed packets from last season and determine if they are still viable. Most seeds have a three year life span depending on storage conditions. By carefully planning your garden layout and seed selection you can stagger planting throughout the year, resulting in a nearly continuous harvest. This winter we took advantage of frozen conditions and modified the large mound in our garden. It is an effort to increase surface area for planting and improve drainage in the lower, middle area.  

This coming year we will continue to push the growing capacity of the space by learning and trying new things.  Before you know it we will be in full swing yet again. It's setting up to get another great year at Cordova Bay, so check back with us throughout the season to hear about our successes!    


Emily Richardson