Now that fall is upon us our thoughts tend to turn to other, non-gardening related matters like Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, fall is a great gardening season and here are a few of the jobs that you can do right now to help your garden survive winter and come back even better next year:
- Mulch young plants and new beds. After the first light frost of the year, but before the ground freezes, till decomposed mulch into the soil. Add five to ten centimeters of new mulch around young plants to keep them warm. Resist the urge to add more than ten centimeters of mulch though because too much could smother roots.
- Drain drip irrigation systems. You probably remember to have your underground sprinkler lines blown out don’t forget to drain your drip lines as well.
- Root vegetables like carrots and parsnips actually taste better after a hard frost and can be left in the ground and harvested over winter. Cut off the tops and cover the plants with 15 centimetres of mulch or straw. If you want, cover that with a piece of carpet and just pull back the covering when you want to dig up some veggies.
- Rake up rose leaves infected with black spot and crab apple leaves infected with scab and throw them in the garbage. Be sure not to compost them because the spores will re-infect plants in the spring.
- Squirrels are smart enough to recognize freshly dug soil. Outwit them by camouflaging newly planted bulbs by planting them in large groups and then spraying the soil with water to level it out. Cover with five centimeters of leaves and twigs.
- Don’t wrap plants tightly with burlap as that can do more damage than good by allowing ice to form against tender tissues. Wrap burlap around stakes to create an airspace and block wind.
- Anti-transpirant sprays available at garden centers are great for preventing evergreens from being dried out by cold winter winds or being scalded by the sun. A generous coating will also keep your Christmas tree looking fresh longer.
Even though there’s a chill in the air and winter is on its way, gardening season never really ends. There are a lot of things that you can do now to prepare for next year.