Have You Tucked Your Garden In For Winter?
Wrap it up, tuck it in
Before calling this growing season quits, we need to clean up the garden and do what it takes to get it properly tucked in for winter – and a strong recovery next spring.
The mild weekend ahead offers a chance to get outside and enjoy working in the yard one last time. Here’s a checklist of end-of-season gardening chores.
- You can leave carrots, parsnips and turnips in the ground for harvesting later.
- Un-ripened tomatoes should have been brought inside before frost. Putting them in a bag with an apple will speed up ripening.
- If temps hit a few degrees below freezing in your area overnight, squashes, melons and pumpkins will likely have been damaged by the freeze. Still, you can take them off the vines to enjoy for awhile depending on damage. Leave as much stem on them as you can and avoid picking them up and carrying them by the stem as that can break the stem and further hasten decline of the vegetable. The warmth indoors will speed ripening and in the case of green pumpkins, help them turn orange.
Flowers and herbs
- For outdoor fall color, rely on cool season plants – pansies, violas and kale.
- Annual herbs can grow indoors in containers as long as they have not been frost/freeze damaged. Sage, basil, parsley, stevia and tea can all be grown indoors over the winter.
- Leave hardy herbs, such as chives, mint and oregano, in the ground as they should come back next year.
Garden clean-up and composting
- Leave some plants that provide winter food for birds and other wildlife – leave sunflowers, Echinacea and ornamental grasses.
- Pick up all dead fruit and veggies from the ground.
- When cleaning up garden debris, know which plants are best to pitch in the compost pile – and which ones are not.
- Do compost leaves, grass clippings, straw, non-diseased plant debris and weeds if they have not gone to seed.
- Avoid composting any plants which are diseased and large pumpkin and squash vines because they take too long to decompose. Because tomato plants often carry diseases, some gardeners avoid composting them altogether.
- Finally, add mulch over the garden to maintain soil quality. Add straw, a fresh layer of compost or use grass clippings from the final lawn mowing.
With the blanket of mulch, your garden is tucked in for its long winter’s nap. Say, “Goodnight,” and look forward to spring!