Winter Garden = Fertilize Season

Warm temperatures in January are an opportunity to get outside and play garden catch up.  I had several things that needed attention; adding fertilizer to my raised beds was number one. Normally this activity begins in December and activity like direct composting and fertilizer tea are added year round.

Adding fresh animal fertilizer is normally during the winter, this gives it time to settle and add value while the garden is resting.  If you purchased organic soil in the spring and your last harvest was wonderful, now it’s time to keep that soil healthy by continuing the feeding process.

Gardening is all about the soil; maintaining and prepping is never ending.  Today I’m sharing how to winter fertilize in new raised beds.  This same method can be added to an open garden plot.

Natural Matter

Pine needles were everywhere so I raked them up in addition to leafs.  I refer to this as natural matter.  It’s perfect for new and existing raised beds because it can be used as a base and mulch.

This is a new bed and that container of needles and leafs were dumped here to establish the base of this bed.

My plan is to grow flowers here in the spring so getting this bed established during the winter will allow spring planting to move along without a lot of additional labor.

After this matter was all spread out I covered it with a layer of dirt.

 Chicken Manure

Three buckets of the worst mistake I could have ever made.  That’s right for a short time I implemented a stationary chicken coop.  NEVER AGAIN!

One word can describe cleaning up after chickens, “Disgusting!”  This is not my thing which led me to happy thoughts while I focused on the positive and let this new bed benefit. This manure went into the bed and once it was spread out I covered it with a thick layer of dirt.

Llama Droppings

I also added a layer of llama droppings and another layer of dirt. Llama Fertilizer is high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; you can apply it year round in your garden, flower beds and hanging planters.

I know many gardeners just focus on natural matter and food waste compost for their fertilizer and that’s great.

The animal droppings also compliment and really makes the biggest difference in my experience.

If you don’t have access or might be looking to find some, I’ve got some great tips on Finding Animal Manure.


  1. My husband and I have been debating whether or not we want to do our garden this year. We typically enjoy it, but by the end of the summer we are glad to be done with it. haha! And it seems the only thing we are good at growing is zucchini. 🙂 Maybe this summer will be the summer our thumbs turn greener. Fingers crossed!

    Thanks for sharing this post on the SHINE Blog Hop!

    1. Here's a thought scale back on your garden this year. Focus some key things you really enjoy growing like zucchini. I'm a firm believer it's okay to scale back a little, it's possible your soil just needs a little jump start. Check out my direct composting tips. That post has helped many gardeners. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Erin says:

    I'm doing the exact opposite of The Contented Wife… I'm expanding mine exponentially lol. I just love gardening and now I'm excited to do some winter work! Thanks so much for sharing!

    I'm stopping by from SHINE Blog Hop!

  3. daisy g says:

    Aren't you blessed to have pine needles on your property! I have to pay for bales of it to use as garden mulch. I wonder if Alpaca droppings would be as beneficial as your llama poop? I think they are similar, no? What a great time of year to add amendments to the soil. You're invited to share this wonderful outdoor post on The Maple Hill Hop!

    1. Yes Alpaca would be fantastic for your garden. All farm animal droppings are beneficial to your garden and winter is the perfect time. Many prefer not to fertilize this way because it can welcome weeds; this really depends on the animals diet. I also fertilize after a bed has finished for the season if I have the time. This last year that wasn't the case. -Carole

    2. daisy g says:

      Do you have to "age" the llama dung like horse manure, or do you use it right away?

    3. You can add it right away, same with sheep which I'll be talking about this weekend. 🙂

  4. I envy that you can be outdoors cleaning up. I'm in Chicagoland and we have snow and temps in the 20s. This year, I didn't even plant flowers. My friend does a garden and we call it the "farm". It's so nice to have fresh herbs and veggies, but can't do it indoors because of our cats.

    From create w/Joy

    1. Well it's been cold here too lately temperature hanging around 20 -40. No snow so that is a blessing! I'm ready for spring. Check out my covered raised beds – they're posted on the Home and Garden Page – My husband and I designed them especially to keep pets and rodent out. stay warm!

  5. I have chicken envy! LOl So happy to find your blog via totally terrific tuesday!

    1. Hello Suzie – glad you found me. Those chickens are something else they love to sift the soil and sometimes I can be seen running them out of the garden. Not often though as they keep me company while I'm gardening. Do you garden? -Carole

  6. Jealous that the ground isn't frozen there. I would love to get out into the garden but its buried under snow! Dreaming of spring here! Thanks so much for stopping by Creative Spark Link Party. Hope you stop by again today!

  7. Thanks so much for linking up at the Totally Terrific Tuesday Link Party. I hope you stop by again tonight at 10pm to show us what you've been up to this week. It's so much fun partying with you!

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