HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Dec. 21 is the official start of winter, but the first frost hit Central Pennsylvania in November to mark the end of the growing season.

Gardeners in Zone 7 can use this slow season to prepare for next spring by completing certain garden chores.

Here’s how to take care of your garden in the winter according to Sow True Seed:


Young trees should be wrapped to protect their trunks. To keep low-branching trees and shrubs from breaking from the harsh winter winds they should be encircled with chicken wire or a cloth.

A fresh blanket of mulch should be applied to your garden. Take care to specifically mulch the area near your perennials. Plants like carrots which will overwinter in the ground will also need to be covered with mulch.

What you should be planting

Winter is not the time to be planting most plants, but those that are hardy can have their seeds sown. If you choose to do this, be sure to cover them with a cold-weather gardening cover like a cloche.

You can also plant some seeds of vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and celery inside along with some perennial flowers. Herbs that will be grown strictly inside can also be started during the winter.

Winter Cover Crops

Choosing to plant winter cover crops can help make your garden healthier and increase its productivity. Options include Brassicas, grains, grasses and legumes. These are typically planted at the end of summer/early fall.

If you planted any, they should be mowed at the end of January.

Plant Care

For indoor plants, now is a good time to give them a cleaning and remove any dust to make sure they are getting as much of the little winter light as possible. Be on the lookout for bugs.

This dormant period is also perfect for trimming. Trim fruit trees and berry bushes before March.


Towards the end of winter, you will want to apply compost to your garden.

Winter Notes

Avoid using rock salt on your sidewalk and driveway because it can damage plants. Instead, opt for sand or cat litter for less slippery walkways.