Although we have had the hottest week of year, fall is right around the corner.   With the change in season come changes to your garden.  Now is the time to prepare for the big chill.

Here are a few simple tips to prepare your garden for winter and ensure a great garden next spring!

  1.  Remove all dying and dead plants.  Clear out the blackened stems and foliage of annual flowers and vegetables to prevent the possibility of their harboring disease pathogens and insect eggs over the winter. Cut back perennials to ground level after first frost to neaten your garden and remove pest eggs and disease spore that may  linger.

2.  Mulch is the garden’s best friend as it cuts back on weeds and holds in moisture.  Rototill mulch into soil to create more organic matter.  Collect ground up leaves and put in compost pile for use as mulch next spring.  Add a thick (6″) layer of mulch to protect plants and soil over the winter months. You want to wait until after the first frost to do this so rodents don’t nest in the soil.

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3.  Plant bulbs! The good news is that planting flower bulbs is fast, easy, and nearly foolproof. One reason fall bulbs are loved by both beginner and master gardeners is that there are so few issues to consider.  Bulbs should be planted as soon as the ground is cool, when evening temperatures average between 40° to 50° F. You should plant at least six weeks before the ground freezes. The Dutch say, “bulbs don’t like wet feet.” So, avoid areas where water collects, such as the bottom of hills.  My next blog will include step-by-step instructions on how to plant bulbs so you can add tropical color to your garden next year.

4. Keep simple records of what grew well and those not to plant again.  When planning for next year, keep in mind when things bloom to ensure color throughout the spring and summer.  I often take pictures throughout the season to remind me what flourished when and where

5. Finally, draw a map of your garden so you don’t plant annuals on top of late blooming perennials.  You may not be aware of certain bulbs such as gladiolas until July!!

Thank you Better Homes and Gardens and for great suggestions!!

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