10 Steps to Winterizing Your Garden
We’ve entered the blustery wet month of November. I don’t know about you, but I always feel energized and uplifted when the wind is blowing, and the leaves are flying like spinning dervishes all around.
As I follow the leaves, they lead me to consider the following steps to wrap up the harvests from my ornamental and veggie garden.
In the ornamental garden:
- Let the fallen leaves lay where they land (unless they’re diseased). Leaves are an excellent mulch, and if left alone they will provide shelter for important overwintering beneficial insects and spiders. Leave as much as you can to rot on its own and remove only what you need to satisfy your sense of tidiness. Hydrangea blossoms hold their rich color long into the season and many perennials, like eryngium, sedum, and echinacea, keep their form and lend interest to our gardens when we maybe forget to pay as much attention.
- Drain and store hoses for winter. If you have an irrigation system, make sure to drain it too so there’s no water left in the pipes to freeze.
- It’s still ok to do a bit of rearranging in the garden. Part of the beauty and fun of gardening is that nothing is static. You can change anything you want to in your garden. If you need or want to move perennials or shrubs, or even trees, fall really is the best time to do it. Plants are going dormant so there is less chance of transplant shock.
- If you haven’t planted any spring bulbs yet, don’t forget to pot up a few paperwhites and Amaryllis for the holidays. The Garden Store has several different varieties of right now and the bulbs are giant! Size matters when it comes to bulbs and these promise lots of color. Paperwhites take about 6 weeks to flower and Amaryllis take about 8 weeks, depending on how warm or cool your home is.
- If you have plants in ceramic pots outdoors, remove the saucers from underneath them so they don’t fill with water and then freeze. This will help prevent winter damage to your pots.
In the veggie garden:
- There’s still time to plant garlic, however your window of opportunity is narrowing. Garlic should be in the ground by the middle of this month to allow time for the roots to develop before the ground gets too cold.
- Mulch your empty veggie beds with fallen leaves or straw (NOT hay, as this contains seeds of whatever variety of grass it is and they will sprout in your beds).
- If you are growing asparagus, now is the time to cut the tops off down to the ground. Mulch to protect the crowns over the winter.
- If you have cannas, dahlias, elephant ear, or other sensitive bulbs and tubers like these, then you need to dig them up before winter. You’ll want to place them in a dark, cool location like the basement—but research the best storage recommendation based on plant. Then in spring, you can replant them for another season.
- A winter jacket for plants? Absolutely! When you’re trying to establish these trees, shrubs, and rosebushes in your backyard or garden, they often need extra protection from those harsh winter winds. Research online for a style that works for your plants.
By Rachel Anderson, Certified Professional Horticulturalist