It seems like we have had real fall this year – cool, crisp, sunny days, and chilly nights that are great for bonfires, mixed in with the rain our perennials, trees, and shrubs need to make sure they go into winter fully hydrated. Ignoring the past two days, the days have been terrific for getting those last-minute outdoor chores done, too. I actually feel like I’ve managed to get a lot done this season, for a change. Of course, I may just be fooling myself. Come to think of it, I still have to clean out my vegetable garden and plant my garlic, plant all my spring-blooming bulbs, mulch some trees and shrubs, and clean up my tools and put them away – I guess I really haven’t gotten as much done as I thought I had. I’d better get to work!
In this month’s issue of Let’s Get Gardening
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In this month’s issue:
If, like me, you haven’t gotten as much done as you think, here’s a list of what you should make sure to get done outside this month:
- Pull out spent plants and compost them, as long as they are disease-free. Cold-weather composting doesn’t generally produce enough heat to kill off any diseases, so you will just re-introduce those problems to your garden next year if you put them in your compost pile now.
- Remove weeds, and do a light tilling to expose weed seeds and insects to hungry birds (yep, I’m finding more ways to feed the birds, while helping out my garden!)
- Add compost to the garden to help improve the soil and add nutrients.
- Plant spinach and peas now for an early crop in the spring.
- Plant garlic now for the best tasting garlic you’ve ever had next summer! We do still have some garlic bulbs at the store, but are running low on some varieties, so come get yours sooner, rather than later.
- If you have perennial herbs, like thyme or sage, spending the winter in your garden outside, give them a good layer of mulch.
- Consider sowing a cover crop, such as annual rye, to help prevent erosion and to add organic matter and nutrients back into the soil in the spring.
- Do a soil test to see if your garden is lacking in any nutrients. Doing it now will give you time to make any adjustments to the soil that are necessary before planting time comes back around.
- Plant spring-blooming bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, and allium. You can plant them up until the ground has frozen, but the sooner, the better. Right now, the soil is still warm enough to allow the roots to get going before winter truly sets in.
- You can also plant spring-blooming bulbs in containers, if you don’t have a spot for them in your yard. They’ll need to spend the winter somewhere cold, but not freezing (in the ground, they are insulated from completely freezing by all the soil around them, and mulch on top – containers don’t provide enough insulation). Keep them in an attached garage or unheated basement, and bring them out as winter is waning, for a lovely spring display!
- Another option for bulbs is to “force” them for blooming indoors. To do this, you need to trick them into believing they’ve been through winter, which can be done in a few ways, including putting them in your refrigerator.
- When your annuals are finished for the season, pull them out and compost them. Also pull weeds out of your beds to give you a head-start on spring.
- Add mulch to your flower beds as the soil cools down.
- You can cut back perennials and ornamental grasses once they have gone dormant, or leave them until spring. I like to leave mine up for a few reasons. First, because standing grasses and flowers can catch drifting snow and leaves and hold them in place. Second, I like the look of the plants in the snow – it breaks up the vast expanses of white. Third, some native bee and other beneficial insects will use the hollow stems of perennials for shelter, or to lay eggs in or on, that will hatch next spring.
Trees and Shrubs:
- For the most part, don’t prune trees and shrubs now. Pruning at this time of year could do more damage than good. The best time to prune most trees and shrubs is in the late winter – February to early March – though there are some exceptions.
- Add mulch to your trees and shrubs now. Making sure they have a layer of about 3 or 4 inches of mulch will help protect the roots from temperature fluctuations throughout the winter. Don’t pile up mulch around the trunks – that just invites insects and disease.
Lawn and Leaves:
- Grass is probably slowing down in growth at this point, so you shouldn’t need to mow much longer, but you do want to make sure that it’s only about 2 inches high going into winter.
- The other task for the mower at this time of year is in helping you deal with leaves. My lawn is still collecting leaves on a daily basis, and it’s not good to leave them there too long. But I don’t have the time (or back) to rake them all up, so using the mower to chop up the leaves and spread them around the lawn is a much easier way to handle them.
- Don’t forget to clean, sharpen, and oil your tools when you are all done outside for the season. For information on how, refer back to the October newsletter.
- Leave your birdbaths out as long as possible. If your birdbath can’t take the overnight freezing temps, you can still fill your birdbaths up during the day, and dump them out in the evening, until daytime temps start going below freezing. Then it’s time for a de-icer.
- If you don’t feed your birds year-round, from now to next spring is the best time to do so. During the warmer months, the biggest source of food for most birds is insects. As it gets cold, and insects aren’t available, birds turn to vegetation for their food. But they need to eat a lot more to get the same amount of protein, and they need at least as much protein to help them get through the cold days and nights.
Mark your calendar for the 14th Annual Wine, Women & Shopping
Saturday, November 9, 2019
10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Mark your calendars now, and join us for Chelsea’s 14th Annual Wine, Women & Shopping on Saturday, November 9th! Look under “events” on our Facebook page for more information, and visit the WWS Facebook page for updates between now and the big day!
Store News & Specials
- $10 off $50 purchase coupon