Autumn gardening is a great time to look back on garden successes and disappointments. There’s still plenty of time to do some garden maintenance. Fall gardening takes advantage of cooler temperatures and fewer weeds and insects. Putting the garden to bed is not as hectic as waking it up in the spring. You’ll have time to really see how your plants are doing.
Here are some tasks to do now, to make next year’s garden brighter and better.
- Enrich garden beds with Watters Barnyard Manure. Spread a 2-3″ inch layer evenly over any exposed soil. Earthworms, along with the winters freeze, thaw cycle, will work this nutrient-rich manure into the soil for you.
- Collect dried seed from your flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Save these seeds for planting next year’s garden. You might even try to expand your skills and try winter sowing this fall.
- Clean bird feeders to get them ready for use. The birds have done a great job of feasting on garden pests and serenading you this year. We are on the migratory path for birds. It amazes me how many different birds visit the feeders through the end of the year.
- Gather herbs and flowers for drying. Leave some flowers for the birds, but get ahead start on your garden clean-up by cutting back plants like hydrangea, lavender, and yarrow and bringing them indoors. I can smell the herbal fragrance now.
- Clean cold frames for winter use. You won’t want to do it when the temperature hovers below freezing. Cleaning it out in the fall makes it all the more likely you will put it to use in the spring.
- Winterize your water garden. Get ready to turn off the pump and turn on the ice breaker. Don’t forget to cover the water garden with netting to keep falling leaves out and the blue herons from getting in.
- Keep trees and shrubs well watered until the ground freezes. They may look dormant, but they’re still alive. If you have a mild, dry winter, continue watering throughout the season. This goes doubly for trees that were planted this year. A good rule of thumb is to irrigate your landscape with a deep soak at two-week intervals.
- Cut back most perennials. Definitely cut back diseased perennials and remove all foliage and dispose of it somewhere other than your compost.
- Clean, sand, and oil garden tools before storing them for the winter.
- Feed the entire yard. This is especially true for young landscapes. Feed everything in the yard with Watters 7-4-4 All Purpose Plant Food. This brings out the fall flowers and autumn colors. More importantly, your evergreens will maintain their rich green colors through winter and provide better growth next spring.
- Treat your evergreen pine and spruce with Plant Protector. This easy-to-use plant drench keeps the bugs out of your trees and larger evergreens for the year to come.
There, you have my personal list of autumn garden tasks. You have plenty of time, but the entire list should be complete before Thanksgiving. Until next issue, I’ll be helping locals grow better gardens here at Watters Garden Center.