person holding green plant stem

Time To Put The Garden To Bed

3 minutes

Six Chores To Do Right Now
The days are getting shorter and the temperature is cooling down.  It’s time to clean up your vegetable and flower gardens and get ready for Winter.  Whatever can be accomplished now will mean you will get a head start in the Spring. Here are six chores you can do right now.

  • Dispose of your dead vegetable plants.  It’s time to pull up those tomato plants that have three tomatoes the size of marbles.  They won’t grow any more.  Pick up any fruit or leaves that has fallen on the ground.  You don’t want to harbor diseases over the winter.  If you have fruit trees, bag all those rotten apples that have fallen on the ground.
    If your plants have been disease free, you can chop them up and add them to your compost pile.  If there are any vegetables left, remove them as you pull up the plants.  You can always freeze them.
  • Weed your perennial beds.  Cut back the dead stalks of your flowers.  The only exception is when they have seed heads on them.  For instance, small birds, especially finches, love the seed heads of the cone flower plant.  It’s like having home grown birdseed.
    Pull out any grass or weeds that have taken hold over the summer.  In the hot months, they can get away from you.  Don’t put the weeds in the compost pile.  Dispose of them elsewhere.
  • Fertilize your lawn.  Fall is the best time for lawn care.  It’s always a good idea to get a soil test before you fertilize your lawn.  You can send a sample off to your County Extension Agent, or just buy a  soil test kit in a home and garden store.  A thin layer of compost is a great way to feed your lawn, but any type of organic fertilizer will do.  I like organic fertilizer because it releases its nutrients slowly.  If you put it on the Fall, it will be ready to do its thing in the Spring when the grass is starting to grow again.
  • Mulch your flower and vegetable gardens.  Leaves and hay make a great mulch.  The mulch will keep the ground temperature constant and will prevent the earth from heaving and dislodging those shallow rooted perennials.  When you put the mulch down in the fall, keep it away from the base of the plants, but once the ground is frozen, move some of the mulch closer to the plants.
  • Compost leaves for use in the spring.  Leaves are abundant in the fall and can be used in several ways.  They can be spread as mulch around trees, shrubs and in your gardens.  They can be composted for use in the spring.  They can be raked into a pile at the edge of the yard and just left there.  After about a year, you will have delicious leaf mold to use in your garden.  Be sure to save some leaves to use as brown material for when you are composting in the summer.

If you perform these chores now, you will be ready to plant in the spring with a minimum of preparation.  The leaves and hay you have left on the garden beds will have decomposed and you can work them easily into the soil.  All you’ll have to do is to put the seeds into the ground and watch them grow.


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