Winter poses a great many challenges for any gardener. At this time of the year, plants are more at risk for developing diseases and eventually dying. To prevent any potential problems, you have to winterize your garden. The main reason for winterizing your garden is to protect your plants from the harsh winter elements and help them survive the cold season, so you can have a healthy and productive garden in the spring. Garden winterization is done during the fall season, just before the cold temperature sets in.
Here are a few winterization procedures that are applicable to all garden types.
1. Rake off leaves from your garden. Doing so prevents diseases among plants and allows proper air and water circulation. Dispose of the leaves by adding them onto your compost. However, if the leaves are from diseased plants, throw them into the garbage to prevent the compost from being contaminated. Most communities have recycling pickup for this garden material.
2. Cover plants with mulch. This will act as blanket to protect your plants from frost and winter extreme weathers. Unless your place is in a colder zone, use thin layers of mulch, as thick and compact mulch may work against your plants. Use sawdust, pine needles, straw, or shredded leaves as mulch, and apply them around the roots and over the beds. Even torn, brown cardboard boxes can be used for this purpose.
3. Relocate delicate plants indoors. All plants that cannot survive winter weather should be moved inside. Place them in a cool and dry place; do not forget to water them regularly. Do not, however, over-water the plants, as this may result in rot. As soon as the spring approaches, place them in sunlit areas. In warmer climates, many plants can be left outdoors as long as they are covered during cold spells.
4. Plant hardy, spring-blooming bulbs in the late fall. By this time, the soil is soft enough to accommodate bulbs. It is recommended to plant them two to three inches deep. Bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus, etc. are good for fall planting.
5. Do not fertilize. Fertilizing encourages new growths that will be too tender to survive frosts and cold temperature. Should you need to fertilize, do this early in the fall. All fertilization should be put to a halt by mid to late fall and resume only in the spring.
6. Clean up your plants. Remove the dead and damaged parts, then add the trimmings to the compost pile, unless of course they are cut from diseased plants.
7. Eliminate the weeds. Because weeds grow a lot during the fall, get rid of them as soon as you spot their presence. Otherwise, they will multiply uncontrollably and give you a lot of work come springtime.
It is inevitable that winter weather will arrive. What type of weather it will be is unknown so it is better to be prepared before the first frost arrives. When winterizing your garden, figure the possible winter extremes in your area, so you can adjust and better prepare your plants for the coming season.