Early-Winter Gardening Chores
Before the winter really sets in and the weather turns really cold, take care of some chores in your garden to ensure that it will be gorgeous in the spring.
As the days begin to cool and winter approaches, you should be doing a few things in your garden to prepare it for the upcoming cold weather and also to get it ready for the next spring growing season. Do these chores before the weather gets to cold to work outside.
Now is the time to go through your various garden beds and clean out any refuse that will serve as sanctuaries for harmful pests through the winter months. Just rake and dispose of in the compost bin or trash. Tip: Do not deposit anything from around any rose bushes in your compost. Roses carry a variety of diseases, which can be transferred to your compost. I just throw mine away.
The early winter is the perfect time to plant bare-root and balled trees and shrubs. (I just planted some dogwoods and redbuds, for instance.)
As you go through your garden, take any hardwood shrub cuttings and root cuttings. Both of these take some time to root, which can be accomplished indoors during the winter months so you will have new plants for the spring.
Prepare the soil for spring
If you have some problem areas in your landscape; for example, a bed that has too much clay soil, this is a great time to improve the soil so it will be ready for any spring plantings. For heavy clay soil, just work in some horticultural sand and grit. (I usually just buy the brown sand that you can find at most garden centers and large retail stores such as Lowe's and Home Depot.) It is also good to work in some mushroom compost. (This may be more difficult to find. Some large locally-owned garden centers may have it, though. If not, just use some of your own compost or buy some compost from a garden center. Scott's has some very good products that will serve the purpose and help to lighten the soil.) On the other hand, if you have thin soil and/or soil that has a lot of chalk, you will need to work in some manure. Once again, check your garden centers; although, some farmers often have extra that they are either willing to just give you or will sell to you at a reasonable price. Cow and horse manure are the best.
You, of course, need to make sure that your spring and summer perennials are protected during the winter months. Add mulch. (Do not ever apply more than four inches of mulch to an area.) You can also use any leaves, especially maple leaves, that may be in your yard. Mulched maple leaves are considered to be "black gold" to most gardeners. They work well as a mulch, plus they decompose easily and return nutrients to the garden.
Plant spring bulbs, corms, tubers
If you have not already planted your spring bulbs, you still have time. Many gardening centers also still have some for sale. Be sure to plant according to the recommended depths and mulch.
Check outdoor potted plants
Plants that you grow in pots may need some winter protection, while others will be just fine. For instance, I grow a lot of mint in pots. Mint really does not care about the winter months, so I just cut back the dead and leave the pots where they are. Other plants may not be so hardy. Many people, for example, grow mandevilla in containers. These need to be placed in either a potting shed, garage, or basement where they will be protected from the harsh winter temperatures and cold winds. Other plants that you grow in pots, such as lilies, can be sunk into the ground -- pot and all -- and mulched. (You can dig up the pot in the spring.)
You must realize by now that there are still some things to do in your garden; even though, the weather is getting colder. Accomplishing these tasks, however, will give you a good start on your spring garden next year.
Some garden chores
Plant bare root trees
Take hardwood cuttings
Joined:Sep 7, 2010
I have been gardening for most of my life and completed the TN Master Gardener course a few years ago. Since then, I have been writing gardening articles online in addition to being published in local magazines. I also give gardening talks around my area, helping people to realize that there is no great mystery to being a successful gardener and that even those with brown thumbs can have beautiful gardens.
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