Wrapping Up the Season
Tie up flimsy branches to keep them from breaking under the weight of heavy snow.
I'll be wrapping up the season in more ways than one: This will be my last Celebrating the Seasons newsletter for the National Gardening Association. It's been a pleasure providing you with fun, seasonal information. However, you can still find great tips, recipes, and articles in my magazine, Seasons by Rebecca (www.rebeccasgarden.com).
When it comes to wrapping up the season in the garden, the more you do now, the less you'll have to do next spring. Here's a list to help you out.
- Continue watering evergreens. Provide a gentle soaking with a slow, steady stream of water or use a soaker hose. Continue watering, if nature doesn't provide soaking rains, right up until the ground freezes hard. It's important that evergreens enter winter with plenty of water.
- Continue planting deciduous trees and shrubs as long as the ground is workable.
- Clean up the garden, removing spent plants and weeds. Compost healthy plants and weeds that haven't gone to seed.
- Amend garden soil with aged manure and/or compost and rototill it in.
- Save seeds from heirloom plants.
- Dig up summer bulbs after the first light frost.
- Move houseplants back indoors. Wash them down, inspect them for pests, and keep them isolated for a week to make sure they're pest-free.
- Remove tropical water plants from ponds and move them indoors. Keep them in a tub of water in the basement. Or, some types can be treated as houseplants.
- Drain and put away garden hoses before the first hard freeze.
- Patch dead areas of grass if temperatures are still warm enough — scuff up the soil, add a thin layer of fresh topsoil, and sprinkle with grass seed. Press the seeds gently into the soil and keep the area moist until the grass seedlings are up and growing strong.
- Empty and clean clay pots. Store them indoors to prevent cracking and chipping.
- Don't prune spring-blooming shrubs — you’ll cut off the buds of next spring's flowers.
- Wrap the trunks of newly planted trees to protect them from gnawing animals and from frost cracks caused by winter sun.
- Pull mulch back several inches from tree trunks to prevent small rodents from tunnelling through the mulch and chewing on the bark.
- Tie up flimsy branches of shrubs such as arborvitae with strips of burlap to keep them from breaking under the weight of heavy snow. Tie one end of the burlap strip to the base of the trunk. Then wrap the burlap around the plant like a candy cane, tucking branches up and under the wrap. Continue wrapping to the top of the plant.
- Wrap tender shrubs, such as dwarf Alberta spruce, with large pieces of burlap.
Clean, sharpen, and lubricate tools before putting them to bed.
- Keep geraniums for next year. Before frost, dig up plants. Gently remove the soil and allow the plants to dry out. Shake off remaining dried soil and foliage. Place each plant, roots and all, into a paper bag. Store in a cool, dry area. In January or February, plant the geraniums in pots. Cut the stems down to 3 to 4 inches and start watering. Your geranium should show signs of growth within a few weeks.
- Clean, sharpen, and lubricate tools before putting them to bed. Begin by soaking them in a hot bubble bath. Then use a wire brush to scrub off debris. Use sandpaper or a scouring pad to remove rust, if necessary. Have the tools sharpened professionally or do it yourself using a bastard mill file: Place the blade at a 45-degree angle. Pull the file across and perpendicular to the blade (filing in one direction only). Turn the blade over and repeat the process. Remove burs with the file or with sandpaper. Lubricate all tools with purchased lubricant, or simply spray with olive oil, and wipe off the excess. Condition wooden handles by lightly sanding with fine sandpaper, then waxing with paste wax (available in most hardware or big box stores).