Are you similar to me? It's sad to see summer come to a close, but it's also a relief to have one less duty to complete. Weeding, watering, trimming, and more weeding are done for the year, and with a few more jobs to do, the outdoor gardening season comes to an end. The majority of what has to be done is the cleaning and covering up. Practical measures for winterizing your outside garden include:
1. Plant protection. There are differing viewpoints on whether plants should be chopped down or left standing throughout the winter. Most people on the prairies keep their perennials standing for a number of reasons. Trapping the snow cover, in particular, is critical for plant protection and moisture retention. Snow cover behaves similarly to excellent mulch in that it insulates the soil. Many perennial stems and seed heads are also highly appealing in the winter and offer food for birds. Mulch perennial and shrub beds with pine needles, compost, peat moss, or chopped leaves when the ground freezes. This protects the soil and plant roots while also mitigating the consequences of significant temperature fluctuations during winter freeze-thaw cycles.
2. Garden maintenance. Harvest warm-season vegetables like tomatoes while they are still green. Lie out on windowsills or stack in boxes with newspapers between layers of tomatoes. They will ripen gradually, or you may use them for fried green tomatoes or other green tomato dishes. Remove any residual crops or spent annuals; tidy up any lingering waste and weeds to reduce disease issues in the spring.
3. Assessing your landscape design Before you begin winterizing your garden, take a few moments to reflect on what worked and what didn't, and write a list of any places you want to modify in the spring.
4. Prepare the soil for sowing in the early spring. Late in the season, turn over the garden soil and supplement it with organic matter such as leaves, compost, or well-rotted manure. A gentle raking is all that is required in the spring.
5. Taking care of trees and lawns. Wrap stems or trunks with chicken wire or commercial tree-guard materials to protect the fragile bark of young trees from rabbits and other chewing pests. Trim tall grass and eliminate weeds to prevent rats from breeding near buildings and trees. Deeply water trees and bushes so that they are properly hydrated for the winter. Pruning shrubs and trees may encourage new growth right before the hard weather. Cut lawns and, if desired, fertilize with a low nitrogen 'winter' blend. Grass clippings can be used as mulch or compost. Never throw them away since they produce amazing fertilizer if left on the grass (if not too long) and/or fantastic compost/mulch if dug straight into the garden or used for paths. Dig into the garden and repair decayed garden walkways with new grass clippings.
6. Planting before the winter season. It's time to plant bulbs. Many prairie-friendly cultivars are available at garden centers. Remember that inexpensive is not always better - the larger the bulb, the greater the bloom. Check for plumpness, suppleness, clean skin, and a smooth surface. Planting instructions are provided in the packaging.
Composting is number seven. Compost any dead plant material, including leaves. Leaves are an important natural resource. Rather than being a nuisance, they are excellent soil amendments and mulches. It takes very little work to recycle leaves into a superb soil conditioner for the yard and garden - leaf mold. Leaf mold may be made in the same way as nature does. Pile up damp leaves and allow them to degrade before heaping them up, or shred the leaves into tiny pieces before piling them up. You may fence the pile with chicken wire, snow fencing, or anything similar if you choose. In the spring, I gather up dried leaves and compost them in the vegetable garden.
8th. Clean your tools. Clean all of your gardening tools of soil, oil any wooden handles and moving parts, sharpen any blades, and store them in a dry spot for the winter.
Water gardening is 9th. Bring in the pumps, empty, clean, replenish (if required), and store fragile water plants before the temperatures drop below freezing.
10. Introducing your indoor plants. Examine any houseplants that have spent the summer outside for vermin, wash them, and spritz them with soapy water or insecticidal detergent before bringing them in. When re-potting your plants, use sterile potting soil obtained from garden centers or shopping malls. Garden soil should not be used since it can harbor insects, weed seeds, illness, and fungus.