As I look out my back window, I'm sadly reminded that summer has come and gone. Autumn is here and the leaves are beginning to fall in brilliant colors. Thankfully for me, this takes the sting out of summers passing but not the sting of what's to come … winter.
In preparation for another dreadful winter the garden beds must be winterized. So begins the fall clean-up. It's easy for me to procrastinate on this, I want to hold on as long as I can to summer. However, I know the longer I wait the colder it will be and not only will I have the fallen leaves to contend with but also my garden beds.
So, don't put the garden gloves away yet. Here are a few things to consider for your fall clean-up list.
1. Harvest any remaining vegetables or flowers from the garden.
2. If your vegetables have stopped producing, pull them out. Remove as many weeds as possible to prevent them from returning in full force next spring. After the first frost, pull out dead annual flowers. Work remaining debris back into the soil for enrichment.
3. Clean perennial flower beds of dead and diseased foliage. Some perennials don't produce well if they have become too large. This is a great time to divide and separate if needed. To do this, gently dig them up at the base and slice through the center. In some cases they may need to be quartered. Spread them out to replant and make sure to water well. If the perennials bloom in late summer or fall they should be separated in the spring.
3. Gently dig up any delicate tubers or bulbs, such as canna, elephant ears, glads or dahlias. Store them in a bucket with compost and keep them in a cool, dry place like a basement or garage. This is also the time to plant bulbs for next spring like tulips or crocuses. Make sure to plant with the root end down and water.
4. Add compost to garden to enrich the soil for next spring. Mulch should also be added to protect bulbs and shrubs from a harsh winter. With nice clean beds you can now plant cold tolerant plants like pansies or flowering cabbage … or you can just call it a day.
5. With the shorter days and cooler nights, fall is the perfect time to overseed the lawn. Grass seed thrives in the fall weather. Check with your local garden center to find the seed that is right for your lawn.
6. Rake, Rake, Rake!
For all the newbie homeowners out there, my son included, I hope this helps. For the rest of us, stock up on the BENGAY.