Tending To My Patch: Getting Your Garden Ready For Winter

Tending To My Patch: Getting Your Garden Ready For WinterAs the cool weather sets in and the plants in our gardens fade, it’s time to think about preparing the garden for winter.
 Take a few extra hours now, and in April and May when the melting snow reveals beds that are ready for planting and spring bulbs popping out of the ground you’ll thank yourself.  Here are a few things for your close-to-open fall checklist:
 Water: Give all of your plants a good drink, especially your trees. Their roots need plenty of moisture to make it through the upcoming months. Going into the winter well hydrated will help keep your plants thriving.
 Clear Debris: Remove spent plant material from the garden. Dead plants, old fruit and vegetables and any diseased plants should be removed from the garden beds and disposed of. Make sure you clean your raised beds and garden rows of all weeds – don’t let them overwinter and go to seed. After the first frost, dig up dahlias, cannas, gladioli, and similar non-hardy bulbs for winter storage.
 Amend Your Soil: Get the ground ready for next year’s beds by working the soil and adding compost and other implements for a healthier soil in the spring.
 Plant Fall Annuals and Remove Spent Annuals: Remember to empty containers of annuals and growing medium and put in storage. Early fall planting gives new plants enough time to get their roots established before winter. Buy and plant spring-flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodil.
 Feed the Birds: Don’t forget your feathered friends; their food supply is not as plentiful in autumn. Dried flower heads with seeds can offer a nutritious food source. Dried plant parts, stems and grasses are excellent nesting materials for birds in the spring. Just remember that all clean-up needs to take place early in the spring, so as not to interfere with your plants new spring growth.
 Divide and Cut Back Perennials: While you’re digging them up to divide and transplant them, try rearranging plants. If you have planned your garden well, you will have late blooming perennial flowers such as sedums, asters, mums, and ornamental grasses to enjoy.
 Rake and Mulch: Left unattended, fallen tree leaves may suffocate your lawn. Shred them and make great mulch. If any disease is apparent at clean up do not put in compost pile. Put in bags and destroy. Clean all tools and wash hands before moving to another area.
 Feed Your Lawn: Aerate your lawn and reseed any dead or thin spots. Apply fall fertilizers and lime. It takes several months for lime to break down and change the PH of your soil. Never apply fertilizer and lime at same time.
 Protect Cold-Sensitive Plants: Shrubs, roses, and perennials that might succumb to blasts of cold should be protected with mulch or other protective covering. Place these frost barriers after the first freeze. Use an Anti-transpirant such as Wilt Pruf to reduce moisture loss and windburn.
 Get outside and enjoy the last days of great fall temperatures and shorter sunny days.