Ever heard that an end is just a new beginning? That's how I feel about fall in the garden. Yes, the season may be coming to a close, but it's also a chance to set up future growing success. With a little cleaning, preparing, protecting and planning, you'll set the stage to start your garden with a clean slate next year. Here's how:
- Remove dead or diseased plant from the garden
- Pull out weeds.
- Harvest and store cabbage and root vegetables.
- Compost annuals.
- Rake up fallen leaves, removing any diseased ones. Use remaining dried leaves for compost or use your lawn mower to shred them up for mulch.
- Clean out fertilizer spreaders.
- Winterize your lawn mower by giving it a good cleaning and removing the fuel.
- Remove hardened soil from tools, such as spades, shovels and trowels, with water and a brush; wipe metal surfaces with an oily cloth to prevent rust.
2. Protect your plants
- Save your plants from hungry deer with an application of Skoot, a nontoxic animal repellent.
- Determine what's at risk should heavy melting snow and ice fall from your roof, and take precautions to protect those foundation plantings, such as binding uprights with twine, pruning back long branches and building A-frames over globe cedars.
- Wrap the trunks of young shade and fruit trees with commercial tree wrap or burlap to protect them from bark splitting caused by southwest injury (also known as winter sunscald).
- Remove soil and foliage from dahlias, canna lilies and gladioli, let the bulbs surface dry and store them at cool temperatures (5°C to 10°C) in dry vermiculite, peat or sawdust.
- Cover tender perennials and roses with clean leaves or hill them up with soil.
- Mulch around new plantings.
3. Prepare for the coming cold
- Sow a cover crop of winter rye or wheat in vegetable gardens (available at some garden centres and farming stores) to prevent soil erosion and add nutrients; till it under next spring.
- Continue watering trees and shrubs (especially evergreens) until they freeze up to help minimize moisture loss throughout winter.
- Add shredded leaves, compost or composted manure to amend and improve your soil.
- Empty, wash and store away dry terra-cotta and clay containers in your garage. On apartment balconies, turn pots upside down and cover them with a waterproof tarpaulin.
4. Plan for next year
Reflect on this year's garden while it's still fresh in your mind (taking photos helps). Write down your successes, failures, goals and budgets to help you strategize for next season.