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Preparing Your Flower And Vegetable Gardens For Winter

Sep 19, 2022 01:46PM ● By Virginia Dean
Preparing a flower and/or vegetable garden for winter takes time and forethought. As the colorful leaves begin to fall, the gardener should take heed to work with the ground and plants before they become covered by the arboreal vegetation. Annual vegetables are nearing the end of their lifespan, and floral perennials are becoming brown and dormant.

It’s tempting to leave it all as is and let nature take its course. After all, the intense preparation that was done in the spring and summer has reaped its benefits. But some time and effort now will make gardening that much easier when spring rolls around again. To reduce your work during next year’s spring frenzy, consider some of these suggestions for putting the gardens to bed.

First, clean up or remove any diseased plants and dispose of annuals. Deadhead and trim perennials and woody shrubs of dead or damaged wood.

Second, remove invasive weeds (along with any leaves or plant debris from beds) that may have taken hold over the growing season. Dig them up and throw them away but resist the urge to simply shift them to another part of the garden. Otherwise, they will sprout all over again and disrupt next year’s crop.

Third, fall is a great time to add soil amendments like manure and compost or organic fertilizers such as bone meal, kelp, and rock phosphate. Adding nutrients this time of year means they have time to break down, enrich the soil, and become biologically active.

Fourth, once the nutrients have been placed, mulch the soil or sow a cover crop to prevent winter rains or snow from washing them below the active root zone. This applies particularly to raised beds since they drain more readily than in-ground beds. Remove the mulch in the early spring in advance of new planting.

Fall is also a good time to trim perennials like raspberries, blueberries, roses, and various herbs. Resist the urge to cut back perennial flowering plants, which make excellent meals for overwintering birds and add interest to the winter garden. Stalks and leaves also provide winter protection for a plant’s tender crowns.

Fifth, dig up and divide any plants that appeared crowded or straggly during the growing season. If spring bulbs have been previously dug up, now is the time to plant them again. Daffodils, tulips, and crocuses are all ready to go back into the soil for another year.

Sixth, if a compost is used, make sure the fall one is heaped with plenty of autumn leaves, straw, or sawdust layered with kitchen scraps and other active green matter.

Seventh, replenish the mulch that may have been eroded during the summer and add a thick layer of mulch to the soil surface to help regulate soil temperatures and moisture and ease the transition into winter. It can also buffer against hard frosts and prolong the crop.

Eighth, now is the time to reconsider underperforming plants and to find out if a better variety exists for a certain location. What worked and what didn’t? Soil fertility, moisture levels, and plant placement can all be adjusted and recorded.

Finally, tend to garden tools—sharpen them, clean them, and oil them.

Preparing for next year’s gardening season now will help spring and summer run more smoothly and improve your garden’s yields over the long term. Autumn hard work yields spring/summer rewards, the greatest of which is easing the workload for next year’s spring planting.

To find helpful gardening equipment check out these local places:

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