Winterizing your garden
This week I have compiled a list that most gardeners should review before throwing in the gardening gloves for the year.
Many tender plants can be removed from the garden if you want them in the garden next year. Apart from this digging and storing, other chores can be carried out this time of year to make the coming spring a more pleasant one.
Plant spring-blooming bulbs — Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses should be planted now.
Removing deciduous leaves — Leaves from trees around the yard should be raked and disposed of properly. Leaves are best placed in a compost heap. Remember that leaves left in the garden or over the lawn can cause grass dieback and opens the lawn and garden for diseases caused by pro-fungal and insect conditions.
Annuals — All that spring work of planting and summer fertilizing for big results has come down to this; pulling up all your hard work. Gardeners should pull up any annual flowers or vegetables that have now been damaged/killed by frost.
Dispose of these in the compost heap if no major disease is present to the naked eye. For some of us who grow many of our annuals, don’t forget that this is the perfect time of year to harvest seeds from common garden annuals such as petunias, pansies, violas, marigolds, snapdragons, etc. I simply collect my seeds each fall into labeled white envelopes and store them in a dry cupboard. Come next March-April, I sow them indoors for summer planting.
Perennials — It is a good idea to cut back old herbaceous perennial foliage and flower stalks close to a few inches above ground level.
These stalks often become unsightly, and require removal in spring so why not simply cut them out now and add to the compost pile.
If you have plants which produce interesting foliage or seed pods these may stay until spring to add winter structure and interest but most should be removed to prevent a messy look to your property.
Weed — I really have grown to strongly dislike this word and all that it entails, but it must be done and as they say ‘ there is no time like the present’.
Taking aggressive action in the fall often prevents weeds from getting a head start next spring, saving you time and energy in the long run.
Dig up “ tenders” — Many tender bulbs must be removed from the garden each fall if you plan to have them the following year. Tender lilies, tuberous begonias, gladiolus, and dahlias must be removed, cleaned, dried and stored well.
Protect trees and shrubs — Many less hardy trees and shrubs require extra protection in our mild winters due to lack of snow cover in coastal regions, frost heave, and well below freezing temperatures inland and to the north.
Many of these species, such as Rhododendrons, some azaleas, and holly ( broad leaf evergreens) can have drying of the leaves and should not only be watered during the fall when dry but also covered with burlap, tree branched or large structures that can be built or purchased.
I am often one to say that if it needs a lot of help in winter, don’t buy it, but I too have those specimens that require a helping hand. Cover those which are in wide open spaces where wind can dry them out and snow may not collect enough to cover soil. In these cases, use wraps and mulch to protect next year’s buds and roots respectively.
Mulch — Trees, shrubs and perennials often appreciate mulch in the fall to add protection against temperature fluctuation that is very common in Newfoundland (not so much in Labrador).
Simply spread lightweight organic mulch, such as shredded autumn leaves, pine needles, fine bark chips or straw, depending on the garden and plant types used, over beds to protect plants from winter.
Mulch also helps keep frozen ground frozen, which is a major issue in Newfoundland regions where freezethaw cycles kill and rot plants, not cold temperature and snow as you may think.
Water — Plants need water to support living cells year-round. Aside from the “apocalyptic” disaster that recently hit many gardens in my hometown of Bonavista (and of course many others on the east coast) the fall here has been fairly dry so watering trees and shrubs, especially evergreens, is a good idea if you would like them to be green the following spring.
Hopefully this check list will help you “close up shop for the winter,” and as always, if questions arise you can reach me at the following: email@example.com.