If you’re a gardener, shorter daylight hours and cooler nights often signal the beginning of fall and the end of a successful growing season. Now that fall officially arrived, it is time to start thinking about preparing your gardens for the winter so they are ready to go next spring. Here are some handy tips to put your gardens to bed.
Root crops like carrots, beets, potatoes and turnips can stay in the ground after a frost but need to be removed before the ground freezes hard and dried for winter storage. Some leafy greens like kale can handle a light frost – but many others like lettuce cannot. Watch the weather closely and harvest your crop before the frost.
After a frost, pull up all the plants in the garden and either compost them if disease free or burn them. Be sure to remove all weeds and debris to minimize insects and rodents from wintering in the garden. Remove, clean and store all poles, stakes and tomato cages.
Once the garden is cleaned, gently turn the soil over to reduce pests and larva. This is one of the best ways to reduce Japanese beetles the following year. You can then add compost and manure to the garden and gently till it into the soil. If you have a lot of weeds, you can layer cardboard or dark plastic over the garden to kill existing weeds and reduce the weeds from sprouting in the spring.
For berries, you should cut back vines and canes to include only six per every foot, and then mulch at the root.
Pull annuals as they are done flowering for the season and compost or burn them if diseased.
Water your perennials and flowering shrubs before the ground freezes. Once the ground has frozen hard, cut perennials back to three inches and cover them with leaves or straw mulch.
For bulb plants like gladioli, dahlias and cannas, carefully dig them up once their leaves have browned. Let the bulbs dry before packing them away in a cool dark spot for winter.
Spring Bulbs, Trees and Shrubs
Fall is a great time adds trees and shrubs to the yard before hard frosts. Talk to your garden center to see which trees and shrubs do best over the winter. Be sure they have plenty of water before the ground freezes. To add spring color, fall is the time to plant spring flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils.
And, finally, don’t forget to clean up the tools and garden shed. Sharpening your shears, removing dirt from the shovels and oiling wood handles will help your tools last for years to come as well as make spring time gardening that much more enjoyable.
Source The Old Farmer’s Almanac