Blog #3 - Getting Your Gardens Ready For Winter
Everyone has heard of spring cleaning, but fall cleaning is also something that definitely needs to be done, especially when it comes to the garden. With Canada's crazy winters there are a number of preparations that a gardener should make while shutting down shop for the season. With a set list of things to do, there's no reason tha tputting garden to bed doesn't have to be as stressful, as say, trying to wrestle a hyperactive toddler to bed.
Annual & Vegetables Beds
When cleaning up your annual and vegatable beds, you'll want to pull up the exhausted plants. You can either put them in your green bin, compost them, or even leave them place as mulch to compost in place. Till your garden to dig up and remove any insects such as white grubs/eggs that you wouldn’t want there otherwise. Pull your tender bulbs (such as dahlias) and make sure that they are stored properly. You can plant them out again come spring! If you're collecting seeds, now is the time to do it.
You'll want to cut back perennials that are dying off - preferably after the first frost when things are truly, really most sincerely dead. This is the time to deadhead/collect seeds before the winter winds blow and scatter your seed all willy-nilly all over your yard. You can also mix in some fertilizer while doing this and mix in organic matter such as compost or one of our high-quality soil mixes so that your plants get an added boost before winter and again in the spring when they wake up. Leave some plants/stalks for overwintering birds/beneficial insects – or build an insect hotel to help them make it through those blustery blizzard days! Make sure to do one more nice, deep watering before the ground freezes.
Don't ignore your trees and shrubs when getting ready for winter! Just because they are hardier, doesn't mean that they couldn't use a little love before the long winter months. Wrap your decidious trees in crepe paper up to the first branches to prevent damage, or apply a tree guard. For your conifers, wrap them in burlap, especially those that are closer to roadways or side walks. Not only does burlap prevent against salt damage, it also prevents the sun damage known as sun scald . Snow isn't just blinding to human eyes - the reflection of light off of that glittering winter wonderland can also give trees a type of horticultural sunburn. Burlap also protects from trees from wind/snow/ice damage by making sure delicate branches aren't snapped off because of the weight of ice. If anything needs trimming or pruning, now is the time to do it. If you've got more delicate or tempermental plants such as roses, you can cage them and then fill the cage with falled leaves or straw to better protect them. Don't forget to give all of your plants a good deep water before the winter!
Fall is the perfect time to top up the mulch on your garden. Mulch is extremely beneficial for helping the more delicate plants or bulbs survive a tough winter. Rose bushes and other flowering shrubs also benefit from a healthy layer of mulch. It also allows in-place composting which gives your plant a fertile boost, and cuts down on your watering needs during a dry winter. It also protects from weeds and bugs. Excellent sources of mulch are straw, wood chips, or shredded autumn leaves.
Before winter, you'll also want to do some general tidying up. Clean up overgrown areas and check on your fences and fountains. Make sure your ponds have been winterized or shut down. Mow your lawn, and either rake up any fallen leaves or shred them to make leaf mulch for your garden beds. Turn over you compost pile before it freezes. Drain the fuel tank on your mower if you use a gasoline mower. Make sure that you take down any garden decorations that wouldn't do well in wet conditions or ones that are fragile and won't stand up to bad weather conidtions. Take pictures of your garden now, especially if you have lots of perennials, so you don't accidentally dig them up in the spring.
Make sure that your garden tools are cleaned, sharpened, and stored in a safe place such as a shed or a basement away from inclement weather - that way, when spring has finally sprung again, you're all ready to go and get your garden growing for another fabulous season.
Have any questions about shutting down your garden and backyard? Feel free to call or come into the store to speak with one of our gardening experts who will be more than happy to help you if you have any specific questions or need general help.