We know that winter is firmly on the way. Schools are finally going back and that means that the darker evenings are ahead and Halloween candy is almost out in the stores. The biggest question that you may have with winter on the way is how you can make sure that your exterior space is ready for it. Your garden is an extension of your home. This means that you need to do everything possible to get your garden prepped and ready!
The last thing that you need, especially over the winter months, is to spend time worrying about your bushes, shrubs, vegetables and herbs. You need to put your garden to bed for winter just like anything else.
In this article we’re going to talk you through all of the things that you need to do to make sure that your garden is prepped and ready. From searching online for tree trimmers near me to ensuring that you are clearing the gutters ready for the season, you already have a lot on your plate. Let’s talk about all things exterior – so you can be prepared.
Start with your vegetables.
If you are a keen gardener, you know how important it is to get your vegetable beds ready for the winter. You want your tender vegetables to maintain their tenderness. You know how they cannot tolerate frost?
Any vegetables that you do have, such as tomatoes or zucchinis, winter squash, or pumpkins should all be harvested before the frost can really strike and freeze the ground. Pull these plants and all of their crop debris. Then you can see whether they are diseased or not.
If there are any plants that are diseased, you can discard them in trash or burn them early. Don’t ever leave infected plants on the property through the winter.
There are some vegetables that will taste just fine after a light frost, but it’s the softer and tender vegetables that you need to harvest and store. For example, Brussels sprouts are OK to stay in the ground. So can broccoli and spinach. But you don’t want to leave those zucchinis in there for too long.
Get your herbs prepared.
Just like your vegetables, you need to get your herbs prepared as early as possible for the winter. Herbs can be a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to winter protection. This is because some are very hardy and some are not.
Sage, for example, is a perennial and doesn’t usually need much special treatment. If you grow it often you need to make sure that you harvest it. The frost can stop its growth.
It’s a wonderful thing to use during Thanksgiving or Christmas. Especially if you are stuffing the turkey with sage.
Rosemary, however, is a perennial that should be protected. It’s evergreen, so you can snip it up and bring it inside for the winter.
Parsley will withstand a light frost, but it doesn’t mean you should have all your herb garden sitting outside. If you have a small greenhouse, it’s a good idea to make sure that you bring your herbs in there.
Invest in garden bed coverage.
Most of us end up adding compost to the garden beds in the spring. However, you can add compost during the late fall. This is so the soil can soak up the nutrients through the winter months before it freezes.
Adding a couple of inches of manure or compost on top of the beds before the ground freezes is a good idea. Then you could add a layer of straw or mulch to prevent any further soil erosion.
You also don’t want weeds developing through the winter months. It’s important to cover up the garden beds. Another way to do it is to sow winter rye as it’s a cover crop. It is also a good one that can be used to improve the soil.
If you want to cover your vegetable garden, use black plastic or a layer of cardboard. It doesn’t have to be too complicated or expensive. This will help to kill the existing weeds as well as subdue anything that might be sprouting.
You’ll find that most berries tend to be easily grown through the winter. However, there are some that may require some pruning and care during the fall months.
Just before the fall really sets in, you can prune your raspberries. Cut them to the ground. After they have borne their fruit, new canes will come up in the spring and bear more fruit for you to be able to pick.
You can also plant your blackberries in the fall. Mulch up the soil so that the hard frost is prevented. You could also cover any strawberry beds that you have with a layer of straw mulch. This helps them to be protected before they grow.
Work on preparing your perennials.
If you have perennial flowers or shrubs growing through the fall, this is the time where you should be watering them. There are many perennials that can be left just cut back in the spring. However, there are some perennials out there which are best to be cut back to avoid spreading disease. This can happen with powdery mildew.
Hostas are the culprits here! When you cut back, you can wait until the ground has frozen completely hard and the foliage has died off.
Mow the grass in the area as far down as you can before you cover it up. Frost can also blacken the leaves of dahlias or gladioli. So carefully dig these up and let them dry indoors or on newspaper.
You can then pack them through with dry peat moss or newspaper shreds. Store them in a humid spot until spring and from here you can replant them.
Switch off your water.
Most people don’t realize that they should do this, but it’s so important that you turn off your water in the winter. If you haven’t already sent it off, it’s time to do it now. This is because you don’t want the irrigation or the hoses connected when it frosts.
You might end up with split pipes or damage to your hoses and have to replace them in the spring. In some warmer climates where you don’t have to worry about frozen pipes. You can just disconnect the system from a hose spigot. Then allow the water to drain off properly.
If you live somewhere that’s cold and really does freeze over, you need to blast all of the water out with air compressors. You can also bring it all inside for the winter. The last thing that you want are damaged equipment or pipes.
Don’t forget your garden helpers.
Bird feeders need to stay as topped up as possible in the winter. This is because birds will always appreciate the high energy foods like suet. During the colder months it helps keep them fed and warm.
Make sure that you have a good and established feeding routine for birds that visit your garden. Make sure that you offer clean water and clean feeders.
Don’t forget birds will eat the bugs in your garden. If you want them to keep helping you then you need to make sure that they feel comfortable coming in.
Keep up with your usual garden maintenance.
Maintenance for your garden should be year round. Without doing it properly you’re going to end up with a messy and unkempt garden. Therefore, getting your garden prepped is very important.
Empty out all of the outdoor containers to keep them from cracking or bubbling over with water. Store them upside down. You can use the nifty hack of hanging a bucket over a hook in your tool shed or garage to store hose nozzles. Keep them drained.
As you go into the late fall, mow the lawns regularly. Grass that’s left too long when deep snow arrives can really develop some brown patches through the spring and die off. That’s what you want to avoid.
If you have a compost pile, make sure that you cover it with plastic before the snow falls and ruins the compost. If you’d have any power tools in the garden, drain the fuel tanks out and make sure that any other power equipment is not left with gas in the tank.
Scrub down and put away those same tools and keep them out of the rain or the snow. The last thing that your tools need this winter is rust.
Your garden should be able to survive winter with these tips. But if you are struggling or have any questions, give us a message and ask.
We’d be more than happy to walk you through how to get your garden prepped and ready to go as we move from summer into the fall. At long last, bring on pumpkin spice season.