Ammendments

Fall Garden Clean-Up Tips

 

Arcana in Winter

It’s Chilly!

We’ve had our first snowfall here in Vermont and if you haven’t already started your fall clean-up it’s time! Energy for garden work is low this time of year but just a few chores will give your garden a head start come spring and make planting a breeze. Below are some guidelines and tips for bedding down the garden for winter.

FarmWait! Before you clean up….. It is best to leave some stalks, brush, logs and groundcover. Cutting back all the dead stalks in your garden eliminates food for birds and hiding spots for overwintering beneficial insects. Plants with seeds or berries, especially native ones, are essential for the overwintering bird population, so Sunflowers, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, etc. should be left standing. You know that dead ground cover you were going to cut back or that brush pile you were going to move?  Leave it and make less work for you and more cover for those beneficial insects, including spiders, some beetles and solitary bees that you want in your garden come spring!

Clean up! This may seem a straight forward task, and for the most part it is. You want to clear any foliage from diseased plants. You can bag it and put it in the trash, or preferably, toss it somewhere well away from your garden. It is also good to do one final weeding so that any seeds on stalks won’t plant themselves in your garden when the weather warms up. Take up any inorganic material, such as black plastic and stakes, so they don’t break up in your garden. Cleaning your garden tools is also a good idea before storing them for the winter.

ArcanaAdPicks - 177Divide spring plants and dig up bulbs. Iris, Dianthus, Primrose, and late bloomers such as Rudbeckia, Geraniums, Hemerocallis, Hostas, Echinacea and Achillea can be divided. Summer bulbs, including Dahlias, tuberous Begonias, Cannas, Caladium, Elephants Ears and Gladiolas, should be dug up, packed in newspaper or for some, in moist soil (as with Dahlias) and stored in a dry place. Check on them occasionally over the winter months and anything that is soft or starts to rot, remove it immediately. Each bulb has its own needs, so check out this article from the University of New Hampshire extension for overwintering details.

Get soil tests and amend. Before the ground begins to freeze, get a soil test and amend this fall, and if you need to, adding lime to organic compost and mulches. The mulch will break down into organic matter and make for a richer environment for your plants in spring and summer. It’s also helpful to stockpile manure in the fall and cover it with a tarp so that nutrients to do not leach out. You can also cover crop 4-6 weeks before the first frost with Rye, Oats, or Legumes that will condition your soil and fix nitrogen into your garden. Cornell University has an amazing tool for figuring out which cover crop is best for your situation. Check it out here!

Our Farm

Save your leaves. If possible, save the leaves you rake up from fall and leave them in a pile to decompose. Over time, this will become an excellent garden amendment called leaf mold. If you want to speed up the decomposition just use a leaf blower on reverse or chop the leaves with a lawnmower.

Protect your garden. Harsh winter temperatures and winds can do a lot of damage in New England. Make sure to mulch with 3-5″ of straw preferably but sawdust, pine needles or wood chips. Wrap fruit tress to protect from winter sunburn and rodent damage. Protect blueberry bushes from harsh winter winds with burlap to minimize drying out of foliage.Vintage Anne with some of her garlic

Plant garlic! Get your garlic in the ground before the end of October or before the ground freezes, which ever comes first. Garlic likes a pH of 6.2-7.0 and needs a cold treatment of 40 degrees for a minimum of two months to sprout. Cover with a thick layer of straw to prevent any damage from the cold.

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Drea Tremols in Fall, Garden Care, How-To, Monthly News, Perennial, 0 comments