The garden season is mostly over now in many areas of the country, but there’s lots to do to get your garden ready for winter! Here are 5 things you can do to prepare….
Even though your summer garden may be finished, fall is a very important time in the garden, as it provides a short window between the summer growing season, and the winter rest period, for you to get a head start on next year’s gardening season.
By planning ahead and accomplishing these tasks now, you won’t have quite as much to do in the spring, and your garden may be easier to plan for, as well as healthier and more productive!
Here are 5 things to get done in the garden right now:
1. Plant Bulbs
Love those bulbs that come up and flower in early spring while most plants are still waking up from their winter slumber? The only way to have them is to plant them in fall. This applies to tulips, daffodils, irises, crocuses, snowdrops, and many others…. Most fall-planted bulbs require a cold winter to catalyze the flowering process, but gardeners in warmer zones (USDA zones 8 to 11) can trick them into flowering by leaving them in the freezer for 6 to 8 weeks before planting.
2. Plant Cover Crops
These are the plants that give back. Many farmers and gardeners grow cover crops in fall and through the winter to prevent erosion and return nutrients to the soil. The most important group of cover crops are legumes…, which convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form plants can use—the nutrients are then available for your spring crops.
3. Plant Perennials, Shrubs, Vines, & Trees
Fall is the ideal time to plant perennials and woody plants, including edibles and ornamentals. The ground still holds the warmth of summer, encouraging the roots to grow, even while the leaves are starting to drop….
4. Put Your Garden to Bed
Once you’ve planted everything you can, it’s time to prepare any empty beds that are left so they’re ready to go come springtime. This means removing all weeds, tilling up the soil, and mixing in amendments (like compost) to create a fertile base for next year’s crops. It’s much better to apply compost in fall than at planting time in the spring, as it has time to break down and release its nutrients into the soil.
The final step is to cover the beds with mulch, so heavy winter rains don’t wash the loose soil away. Mulch also adds organic matter to the soil as it decomposes….
5. Last Chores Before the Snow Flies
In the flurry of gardening activity that consumes our lives in early spring, it’s easy to forget what the garden looked like the previous year. Many perennials, for example, are slow to emerge from their roots and giddy gardeners are prone to planting right over them. That’s why seasoned gardeners like to label their plants in late fall before they disappear under a blanket of snow.
Lastly, anything that has liquid in it needs to be tended to before freezing weather hits. Turn off the irrigation system and drain the lines by opening all the valves once the water supply is off. Drain garden hoses and, if you have the space, store them in a shed or basement for the winter. The fuel from gas-powered equipment can also be drained, or you can simply spike it with a fuel stabilizer to keep it from degrading while not in use….
Read more at ModernFarmer.com…