As cool weather approaches, all but the most avid gardeners begin thinking about putting our gardens to bed for the winter. If you’ve grown weary of gardening, it’s tempting to just let your garden die and forget about it until spring planting season.
However, if you’re interested in getting the most out of your garden next year, it’s best to perform a few tasks in the fall. Then your spring garden will be even more successful next year.
Depending on where you live, you need to begin thinking about pulling up your annual plants. If your plants are starting to die because of the weather, or if you are seeing near freezing temperatures, pull up your annuals and throw them into the compost bin. Now is also a good time to trim back other plants, since the leaves are starting to fall and you can better see what you are doing.
You should also be sure to cut your grass one last time and add the grass to your compost bin as well. By starting a good compost pile in the fall, you will be certain to have some great compost to add to your garden in the spring.
Also pull up your weeds, but don’t add them to your compost pile. You don’t want to chance having your weeds grow and thrive in next year’s garden, should they survive the compost pile.
One caveat: if you had any pests or disease in your garden this year, you may want to avoid putting your annuals into the compost bin. You don’t want to set yourself up for the same problems next year.
After you’ve taken care of your plants, prepare the soil for next year’s garden. Grab your shovel and turn the soil to loosen it and allow water and air to better get into the soil.
If your soil needs additives, add them now. It’s one less step you’ll need to do in the spring, and you will be happy to know that your soil will be healthy and ready for plants next year.
Once your garden is trimmed back and neat looking, it’s a good idea to add some mulch to the top of the soil. The mulch will keep the ground moist and will inhibit weed growth. Mulching also protects the soil from freezing temperatures, which can hurt even perennial plants.
It seems strange to think about watering your garden right after you’ve pulled up your plants. But if you live in a dry area, your perennials will appreciate the water you give them before winter hits. And considering the droughts that have hit the United States this year, watering your garden well one last time should not be ignored.
Finally, clean and prepare your tools and pots for next year. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to plant your garden, only to realize that your tools are rusty and your pots are cracked or broken. Clean off your tools and store them in a safe place. Rinse out your unused pots and store them indoors to prevent the weather from damaging them.
Once these tasks are completed, you can enjoy the winter, knowing that when the sunshine comes out next year your garden (and your tools) will be ready for you.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
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