How did your garden do this year? If it didn’t perform as you had hoped, we have good news for you: NOW is the perfect time to make sure that next year’s garden is a winner. From soil fixes to curing diseases and dealing with pests, the tasks you do now are well worth the time and energy spent.
Clean It Up
Don’t run around the garden pulling out plants as they die; save yourself the hassle and do it all at once when everything is dead. Then, because that garden detritus can provide a safe haven for over-wintering disease organisms and pests, bag up the dead plants or throw them into the compost.
Then, clean up the soil by removing dead leaves, twigs, and anything else that can shelter pests.
Attend To the Soil
Fall is the best time to prepare your garden’s soil for next season. Dig a 4-inch layer of shredded bark, combined with an equal amount of compost, into the top 6 inches of your soil. Leave it to overwinter, and it will lighten up clay soil. For even better results, add an additional 4-inch layer of wood chips to the surface of the soil, and allow it to remain all winter.
Other types of soil just need a shot of compost spread over the surface. By spring, Mother Nature will have mixed it into the soil.
All vegetable gardens can use a bit of ammonium sulfate. The experts at Colorado State University Extension suggest adding about 2.5 pounds per 1,000 square feet of garden space. Mix it into the soil to about 10 to 12 inches deep.
Take Care of the Workhorses …
Perennials are truly the workhorses of your garden, and they’ll work even harder for you if you pamper them now. Cut back anything that requires it, and remove the debris to keep pests and diseases away.
Inspect shrubs for diseased branches and stems. Prune off anything that looks diseased and rake up the mulch under the plant because it may contain disease organisms or spores. Then, as we get closer to winter, spread a 4- to 6-inch later of fresh mulch over the soil.
… And The Bulbs
Want spring blooms from crocus, daffodils, or tulips? Now is the time to plant them, before the ground freezes.
The gardening gurus at Better Homes & Gardens suggest that you plant each bulb in a hole that is “two to three times deeper than the bulb is tall. So, if you have a 3-inch-tall bulb, dig a hole 6 to 9 inches deep.”
Tender bulbs, such as canna, dahlia, and gladiolus, should be protected from being brought to the surface by frost heave during winter. Use pine tree boughs, wood chips, or pine bark, say the experts at Better Homes and Gardens.
Don’t Forget the Trees
You can get young trees ready for winter by using tree guards, wrapped around the trunk. This helps keep hungry critters from chewing on the bark.
Prune branches that don’t look like they’ll stand up to winter weather and any that are crossing over one another. They may be wounded or can break when they rub together during windy weather.
Continuing watering your evergreen trees right up until the first frost to protect the foliage from drying out.
That Luscious Lawn
Summer’s over, but that doesn’t mean that your lawn doesn’t require attention. In fact, grass works its hardest during the fall, taking in as much water and nutrients as possible to prepare for the dormant season. Keep mowing and watering the lawn throughout autumn and, as winter approaches, cut it at your mower’s lowest setting.
Don’t cut more than one-third of the lawn’s height in one mowing.
Fall is also the best time to aerate and fertilize the lawn. Use a broadcast or drop spreader to apply fertilizer evenly.
Finally, don’t allow fallen leaves to remain on the lawn over the winter. If you do, they may suffocate the grass or, according to Popular Mechanics, provide the ideal breeding ground for fungal organisms.
Now, all you need to do is stock up on seed catalogs and gardening books to read by the fire! Before you know it, gardening season will be back, and your little plot of dirt will be ready.
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