Showing posts with label Winter Garden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winter Garden. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How To Keep Your GARDEN Healthy In Winter

evergreen perennials in a shade garden under w...
Evergreen perennials in a shade garden under winter light (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Old Man Winters' arrival doesn't mean that the Winter garden can be neglected. Keeping the garden on an even footing against the ravages that winter can bring is ongoing. Neglecting proper garden closing chores and winter maintenance tasks is only a recipe for a headache in the spring. Follow a few of these winter garden tips and a bountiful spring will be waiting in a few months time.

Setting the winter garden table
An interesting to look at and healthy winter garden depends upon taking steps in the late fall or early winter. Clean up the garden. Make sure that any garden trash is picked up before the snow flies. If this "trash" is left behind it presents an opportunity for bacteria to find its way into any cuts in the plant or onto the plant's roots. Bacteria growth, and possible disease, on the plant, is the biggest danger to a winter garden.

Watch out for color when trimming
If you have had your garden for at least one winter season you know what has color during winter and what does not. Trim this color judiciously looking for maverick branches, but be sure to keep the overall form of the shrub so that winter color can shine in a uniform way. If you are not sure, leave it alone and get a feel for what has winter color for next winter. If a shrub has a winter bud on it, leave it be as this is where the flower will come from next spring.

Trim out the cut or torn limbs
Chances are that a torn or cut (looks like a knife cutting into an apple about an eighth of an inch deep) limb will end up dangling, or on the ground, as winter progresses. Take care of it early and your garden will look sturdy and ready for whatever the winter has to offer. Look for a nodule on the limb (looks like a knuckle of sorts) and cut about one-quarter of an inch above it on an angle for a proper cut.

Weed to a clean ground
Weeds also present a messy problem through the winter. Not only will they decay and offer disease potential, they will also continue to grow their roots until the ground freezes hard. This will only make them more invasive in the spring. Besides, if you need to a clean ground you will have a nice clean contrast to the dormant plants in the garden.

A nice clean edge
Unless you are going for a more informal look, give a nice edge job to your garden flower beds before the ground freezes. Not only will this make for a crisp look during the winter months, as the edge freezes, but it will put you one step closer to a solid start in spring.

To wrap or not to wrap
If you look at many winter gardens you may notice that people have wrapped burlap or some other material around their evergreen shrubs. Generally, this is to prevent a snow load or high wind from damaging the plant. Unless you have the potential for a snow load or predictable high winds this is not necessarily needed. The wind issue is an issue, but remember that all plants need air circulation, no matter what type of plant they may be. If you wrap a shrub/plant to tightly air circulation will diminish and present the opportunity for moisture build up and disease. If you wrap your shrubs make sure to do it securely but with air circulation in mind.

It cannot hurt to a mound
Mounding around the base of a plant is intended to give the root systems of a shrub/plant a little extra insulation during hard winters. Depending upon which zone you happen to be gardening in the need for mounding rises and falls. In any case, you want to make sure that you compress the dirt of the mound with a firm push of the hands. This gets some of the air out of the mound and generally makes a mound of dirt look a bit nicer. It also shows that you took a little care in your gardening. This sometimes impresses people that visit your winter garden.

Trees are plants too
Take a few moments to assess your trees before the winter winds start to howl. Look for any branches that may have grown old, look to be growing across the desired vertical path of a properly trimmed tree or have died during the season. What you are looking for is any limb or branch that may rub constantly on another opening a wound in the bark. Generally, you would not want to cut a branch as winter approaches, or during the winter months, but sometimes you need to.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Preparing The GARDEN For Winter

English: A picture of compost soil
A picture of compost soil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Are you like me?  Sad to see the summer end but at the same time relieved that there is one less task to tend to.  Weeding, watering, pruning, and more weeding is over for this year and with a few more chores the outdoor gardening year draws to a close.  Most of what needs to be completed is a matter of cleaning up and covering up.  Practical steps to preparing your outdoor garden for winter involve:

1.  Protecting plants.  There are different opinions concerning whether to cut down or leave plants standing through the winter.  Here on the prairies, most people leave their perennials standing for a variety of reasons.  In particular, trapping the snow cover is important for the protection of plants and retaining moisture.  Snow cover acts the same as good mulch by insulating the soil.  Many perennial stems and seed heads are also very attractive for winter interest and provide food for the birds.  After the ground freezes, mulch perennials and shrub beds with pine needles, compost, peat moss, or chopped leaves.  This protects the soil and plant roots and moderates the effects of extreme temperature changes during winter periods of freezes and thaws.

2.  Cleaning-up the garden.  Harvest warm-season crops such as tomatoes even though they are still green.  Lie out on windowsills; or layer in boxes with newspapers between the layers of tomatoes.  They will slowly ripen or you can use green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes or various green tomato recipes.  Pull out any remaining crops or spent annuals; clean up remaining debris and weeds to decrease the possibility of disease problems in the spring.

3.  Evaluating your garden design.  Before you start winterizing your garden, take a few minutes to review what worked and what didn’t and make note of any areas that you would like to change in the spring.

4.  Prepare the soil for early spring seeding.  Turn over the garden soil late in the season while amending with organic matter such as leaves, compost, or well-rotted manure.  In the spring, a light raking is all that is needed.

5.  Caring for trees and lawns.  Protect the tender bark of young trees from rabbits and gnawing critters by wrapping stems or trunks with chicken wire or commercial tree-guard products.  To prevent rodents from nesting near buildings and trees, trim tall grass, and remove weeds.  Deeply water trees and shrubs so that they go into winter well hydrated.  Don’t prune shrubs and trees as it may stimulate new growth just before the harsh weather.  Cut lawns and fertilize if you wish with a low nitrogen ‘winter’ blend.  Use grass clippings for mulch or compost.  Never send them to the landfill, as they are excellent fertilizer left on the lawn (if they are not too long) and/or make terrific compost/mulch dug straight into the garden or used for pathways.  Once rotted on garden pathways, dig into the garden and replace with new grass clippings.

6.  Planting before winter.  Now is the time to plant bulbs.  Garden centres carry many varieties suitable for the prairies.  Remember: buy good quality as cheap is not better – the larger the bulb – the larger the bloom.  Look for plumpness, firmness, clean skin, and surface.  Directions for planting are included with the package.

7.  Composting.  Compost dead plant debris including leaves.  Leaves are a valuable natural resource.  Rather than a nuisance, they are the best soil amendment as well as terrific mulches.  Leaves take very little effort to recycle into a wonderful soil conditioner – leaf mould – for the yard and garden.  You can make leaf mould by the same process nature does.  Pile up moist leaves and wait for them to decompose or shred the leaves into smaller pieces before piling them up.  If you wish, you can enclose the pile with chicken wire, snow fencing, or something similar.  In the spring, I rake up dry leaves and dig them straight into the vegetable garden.

8.  Cleaning your tools.  Clean the soil from all your gardening tools, oil any wooden handles and moving parts, sharpen any blades, and then store them in a dry place for the winter.
9.  Water Gardening.  Bring in pumps, drain, clean, refill (if necessary) and store tender water plants prior to freezing.

10.  Bringing in your indoor plants.  Before bringing in any houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors, examine them for critters, wash them, and spray with soapy water or insecticidal soap.  Use sterilized potting soil purchased from garden centres or shopping malls if re-potting your plants.  Don’t use garden soil as it may harbour insects, weed seeds, disease, and fungi.