While the nice weather holds out, wouldn’t you love an excuse to get outdoors? Well, it’s a good time to do a little garden winterizing. It can mean the difference between winter dieback and winter dormancy, and it doesn’t take much time.
There’s a link below, to listen now, or you can access the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. If you’re the type who prefers to read, scroll down below the photo and dig in. While you’re here, pick up a copy of “Putting Your Garden to Bed”. The link is in that big rust colored box on the right side of the page.
It’s November and you’re probably thinking there’s not much gardening to do in the Hudson Valley. You’re right. Even plants need a rest. But that doesn’t mean there is absolutely nothing that needs your attention outdoors. And since the weather is still quite pleasant, why not take advantage of it?
Last week I talked about making leaf mold. I’m as dismayed as I am every year seeing the humongous piles of leaves all along my road. This weekend was a steady roar of leaf blowers. What a waste. Seriously, if you garden at all, hoard those leaves. They’re free and using them in the garden is almost effortless! If I had a truck I’d be out scooping up my neighbor’s leaves.
Okay, enough with the leaves. Let’s talk about some final winterizing you can do in the garden.
❦ Firstly, keep watering any newly planted trees and shrubs. We’ve had a decent amount of rain this fall, so established plants should be fine on their own, but any newbies can still use your help. It looks like nature might do the heavy lifting for us this afternoon, which is always welcome.
❦ Don’t forget to drain your hoses. Even if you are going to use them again, you never know when we might get a hard freeze and some steady cold weather.
❦ Winterize your water garden. You should have stopped feeding the water plants back in September.
Move the hardy plants to the deepest part of the water garden. Hardy waterlilies can be left in the water garden, but tropical waterlilies cannot. You can bring them in and store them like dahlia bulbs, or keep them in a pan of water, in a cool spot in the basement, away from direct sunlight.
Don’t bother trying to over-winter the small floating plants. They are problem magnets. Let them go. Toss them in the compost and stat fresh next year. They multiply quickly.
If you have fish or plants remaining in the garden, you need to make sure the water doesn’t freeze over. So if you don’t have a winter hardy pump, at least look into getting a floating de-icer
And if you have fish overwintering in the water garden, remember that cold water slows their metabolism, so they won’t need much food. You should switch to a low protein food, or something labeled spring/autumn food, which will lower the level of ammonia in the water.
❦ Start checking your houseplants for insects and signs of disease, like foamy white scale. Check them every couple of weeks, when you water them, so things don’t get out of hand.
❦ Take advantage of bulb sales and pick up a few paperwhites or amarylis to force in to bloom.
❦ And finally, get your seed starting supplies in order. It’s no fun lugging home potting soil that has frozen into a heavy brick by February. Get you pots clean and ready to go. Seeds will be out in only a couple of months.
So there’s still plenty of gardening to keep your spirits up as we slide into the down season. If you only have time to do one thing, please, please make a pile of leaves for leaf mold. (I know, I’m starting to get annoying with this.)