Friday, November 11, 2016

Putting the Garden to Bed

Late blooming roses flowering in early November

Our first frost arrived Wednesday morning. Roses handled it just fine. It was not enough to kill my lantana and begonias, but the annuals will soon succumb to winter cold. Now is the time to prep our garden for winter. Doing so now gives gardeners a chance to get ahead of all the spring chores.
Here are a few tips:
Weed beds one last time to get a headstart on winter weeds. Veteran garden blogger Kathy Purdy, of Cold Climate Gardening, shares some great tips on triage weeding. She gives a wonderful how-to on removing weeds in an order that can work for even the most procrastinating of gardeners.
Get as many weeds as possible out before seeds drop 

Mulch as the soil temperatures cool. Add just an inch or two of shredded bark, compost or your favorite mulch, leaving a little space around trees and stems.
Large mulched areas keep weeds out, warm soil temperatures and are a good preparation for planting

Prune after the leaves fall off the trees. In Pruning Tips from the Chicago Botanical Gardens , professional gardeners suggest pruning deciduous trees once they are dormant. Their Plant Health Care department recommends pruning evergreens in the growing season to avoid tip burn during harsh, cold temperatures.
Wait for spring to prune hemlocks, though dead wood can be cut out anytime

Mow trees' leaves right into the lawn as they will add nutrients to the soil. If leaf fall is too heavy, shred leaves and add them to the compost bin or use as a mulch in gardening beds.
A leaf rake and lawn mower can work together in the garden

Save annual seed from flowers to plant next year. Pull out dead annuals and add to the compost pile if they are disease free.

Plant bulbs like daffodils, tulips, hyacinth and scores of other spring blooming varieties. Dig, Drop, Done is a fun and informative website to help with bulb questions, design and all-around care. I have planted bulbs as late as January with good results.
Deter deer and other wildlife by using deer repellent sprays and granules like those available from Messina Wildlife. Deer Stopper tape is also very effective to keep deer away from prized trees, shrubs and perennials.
Long a personal favorite product for deer-heavy areas
Photograph or journal this year's triumphs and challenges to help plan next year's garden.
Test the soil before it freezes. Bring it in to our garden shop for a free pH analysis.

John checking soil pH
Check houseplants for any hitchhikers that may have come back in with the plants that summered outside. Give them an occasional shower with tepid water to keep leaves clean. Spray with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil if insects appear.
Bad bugs, bad shot

Enjoy the autumn and winter seasons. It won't be long until seed and gardening catalogs arrive in the mailbox.

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