Fall Garden Chores

Fall Garden Chores
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Fall Garden ChoresLate fall garden chores are important, especially in the Northern climates when freezing temperatures can arrive at any time. Preparing and protecting the garden and landscape now will make spring a far easier and enjoyable time of year.

Amending Soil: Fertilizing isn't generally recommended in the late fall, but adding amendments to the soil is always welcome. In the vegetable garden remove all plants at the end of the harvest, clear the weeds, and work in the amendments. If your soil is acidic, adding lime to the garden helps balance things out. Compost, wood ashes, and even fresh manure can all be dug into the soil since it will have until spring to decompose. After the amendments have been added, lay down a thick layer of mulch. In the spring, the garden will be ready to go.

Mulching: Mulching will make a big difference on whether new plants, shrubs or trees make it through the winter. The trick is waiting to apply the mulch right before the ground freezes completely and snow falls. In Northern climates, this can be around the middle to the end of November. The mulch protects the soil from a cycle of freezing/thawing/freezing, which is why it should be applied before the ground is completely frozen, but not too early. The beginning of November should be a good time to mulch for Zones 5 and lower.

The mulch should be 4-6 inches thick to offer proper protection, and the material used should be something that won’t become mushy and clump together such as straw, hay, chopped leaves, compost or a mixture of these items.

Watering: If you aren't receiving sufficient rain, it is important to keep watering trees, shrubs, and perennials until the ground freezes. If it's raining once a week where the ground becomes completely soaked, then it should be fine.

Pruning: Any shrub or tree that blooms in the spring should be pruned ONLY of branches that are diseased or have been damaged. Pruning for shape should only be done after blooming.

Nonhardy Bulbs: Remember to pull up your nonhardy bulbs once the foliage has died back or after a light frost. These include tuberous begonias, caladiums, cannas, dahlias, gladioli, elephant ears and tuberoses. Gently wipe away the dirt with a dry rag and store them in peat, sawdust or shredded newspaper in a dry cool area that doesn't get colder than about 60 degrees throughout the winter.

Containers: Empty any pots and other containers of annuals, brush out the soil, then wash with a mixture of water and bleach. Store the containers in the garage, a shed or a sheltered area for the winter. Add the container soil and plants to the compost pile.

Lastly, clean your yard and garden tools before winter after you've finished your fall chores. Wash the tools with soapy, hot water and dry off with a soft rag. Sharpen any that need it and rub wood handles with mineral or linseed oil before putting them away.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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