Get Your Garden Ready for Winter
Make like BBG's horticulture team and add mulch to your garden this fall. Photo by Blanca Begert.
As the temperatures drop, there are a few chores
left before the snow begins. Follow these tips to help protect and
enrich your garden throughout the winter months and ensure a healthy
and productive growing season next year.
Fall is a good time to add compost, manure, and
other amendments to the garden. Most other
fertilizers are best applied in the spring. If you’re
not sure about the quality of your soil, take a
sample and send it out for analysis. If you do this
before the first frost, you should get the results
back in time to work in recommended amendments
while the ground is still soft.
One of the most important things you can do
for your garden over the winter to ensure spring
success is mulch. Mulch decomposes over the
winter, adding nutrients to the soil. It also helps
protect perennials from fluctuating temperatures
and soil heaving.
Clean up Plant Beds
Pests can survive over winter under plant residue, so
remove fallen leaves and fruits around perennials
and either pull out and compost annuals or turn them
under so that they can start breaking down over the
winter and add organic matter back into the soil.
Tender summer-blooming bulbs such as dahlias,
gladiolas, and cannas can’t survive the frost, so dig
them up and store them in a cool, dry place
indoors for replanting next year. After removing
summer bulbs from the garden, fill the vacancy
with spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips or
daffodils for a burst of spring color.
Clean Your Tools
Empty your hoses and watering cans and put
them in storage. Clean the metal parts of
your pruning tools with water and a stiff brush,
then dry them and wipe them down with oil.
Treat the wooden handles of trowels and
other tools with linseed oil to prevent them
Bring Some Plants Indoors
It’s always nice to have some green inside on
cold winter days, and there are many plants
and herbs that can be dug up and grown in
containers indoors. Thyme does especially well
on windowsills, as do begonias and peppers.
Make sure to examine them for pests before
bringing them inside.
Start Planning for Next Year
As you tidy up your garden, take stock of what
worked well and what didn’t. Sketch a garden
map so that in the dark days of winter you
can begin planning what and where to plant