Cool autumn weather is the perfect time to get most of your garden tasks done and prepare it for its long winter nap.
Divide And Conquer
Now is the time to attack your overgrown hostas and daylilies. Plants that have become too big must be divided in order to renew them with vigor and to prevent your garden from becoming overcrowded. Grab a sharp-edged spade and dig into the plant’s middle. Don’t worry about damaging the roots. They will bounce back in no time. Give away the extras or plant them in a new spot in the garden.
Indoor plants that have enjoyed the summer outdoors need to be prepped for bringing them back inside. Most will need to be re-potted. Choose a container one size larger. Now check the plant for any unwanted bugs by placing the plant (in its old pot) in a tub of tepid water. Any bugs that have taken refuge in the soil will surface and can be gotten rid of. Trim the roots if the plant has become too big and re-pot with fresh new soil, complete with manure or fertilizer. Acclimate your plant to its new home indoors by bringing it in every night and slowly lengthening the time it spends indoors.
Rake The Leaves
It may be a pain to rake, rake and rake some more, but your lawn and garden will thank you. Compost leaves that are crunchy and compostable such as silver maple leaves but discard leathery leaves like oak in municipal compost bags. Bugs cannot overwinter in your garden if they have no warm spots such as under a layer of leaves.
Mow your lawn one last time before the cold weather sets in and take the time to fertilize the grass. Make sure you use the correct fertilizer with a high phosphorus content such as 13-25-12 to stimulate only root growth. Trim and edge the lawn so that it will look its best when the grass turns verdant green come spring time.
Certain spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths need chilling time. Now is the time to plant them. Make a hole at least three times the depth of the bulb and dump a handful of manure in it. Make sure to plant the bulb right side up. Garlic should also be planted at this time.
Empty The Compost Bin
If you have been composting all spring and summer and turning the compost over every week or so you should have a wealth of goodness to spread around your garden. Compost not only feeds your plants, it prevents diseases from attacking the plants. Leave a layer of compost in the bin as a starter for the next round of fruit and veggie scraps.
Protect Delicate Roses
If you have hybrid tea roses they will need to be protected from the cold. Stop fertilizing the plant six weeks before the first frost and allow the hips to develop. Once the nights are consistently cold, heap mounds of soil over the base of the plant to protect the roots. You can also cut some of the taller canes so they don’t break in the wind.
Turn Off the Water
Don’t forget to empty your hose before the first frost and turn off the water so pipes don’t freeze.
After all your winter prep tasks have been completed, make sure to hose off your gardening tools and then thoroughly dry them, so no rust forms. Wipe the metal edges with a cloth dipped in vegetable oil. Then store them in a dry spot in the gardening shed.
Come spring, you’ll be glad you took the time to prepare your garden for winter.
By Beverley Burgess Bell