Guest Author - Teresa Shaw
With the cooler temperatures come a variety of tasks in the garden, including weeding, mulching, and planning for spring. Following is a roundup of ideas and suggestions to get your summer garden winter ready.
Dig up and Store Summer Bulbs
If you live in a cooler climate, dig up the bulbs of more tender plants such as iris, dahlias and gladiolus. Store the bulbs indoors over the colder months.
Cut Back Perennials
Cut back annuals that won’t make it through the winter. Be sure, however, to leave perennials that drop seeds, such as black-eyed Susans and cone flowers – the birds will snack on the seeds in the cold winter months.
Most herb plants should be pulled as well, as they are too tender to last the cold winter. Chives, however, generally can withstand the winter – just cut them back in the fall and they’ll grow hardily in the spring. Also pick off any blossoms or the seeds will spread and eventually take over your garden.
After your annuals, such as impatiens and petunias, have run their course and start to wilt, pull them and throw them into the compost heap.
Get your soil ready for springtime by clearing out any stray weeds now. A layer of mulch will also help to smother any stragglers and keep your soil clear for springtime planting.
Plant Spring Blooming Bulbs
Plant daffodils, tulips and other spring-blooming bulbs. See this article for more information on planting fall bulbs.
Cover the garden with a new layer of mulch to help cover and feed the soil for springtime planting. Autumn leaves work especially well as an organic and inexpensive mulch – if you have a mulching lawn mower, just run the mower over your lawn with the mower bag attached, and spread the chopped-up leaves over your garden.
Make Plans for Spring
Sign up now for gardening catalog mailing lists. Nothing brightens up the January doldrums like perusing a seed catalog and dreaming about summer gardens exploding with color.
Grab your gardening journal and make note of what worked and didn’t work. Also note which plants did especially well this year, as well as which annuals you planted, where you planted them, and how they did. I also like to make note of which vegetables I planted and where I planted them, when I picked the first veggie, and the size or weight. Keeping track year to year helps to pinpoint the best dates to plant your garden and when to expect your first harvest.