GARDEN WORKS: Winding Down – Making it count at the season’s end

Emily CatesGARDEN WORKS

by Emily Cates

The end is near – of the gardening season! The vines have shriveled, the leaves have fallen, and the grass is turning brown. Though the scene outside may have begun to look rather apocalyptic, for many gardeners there are still many activities that can be done before the snow flies and the ground freezes. Let’s take a look at a few of them, including garden clean-up, preparation for next year, and selective and strategic plantings. Since it’s actually an ideal time of year without bugs and blazing heat and humidity, let’s get to it and enjoy the outdoors.

First things first! Rule Number One at the season’s end is to clean up all debris from spent plants. That way, pests and diseases won’t have a hiding place to overwinter and an encore performance. I prefer to be as thorough as possible, sending the remains to a burn pile. Some folks like to turn poultry out to the garden at this time to help with the clean-up and to leave their own “deposits.”

With plants and weeds cleared away, I like to dig up the garden with a spading fork, paying extra attention to grubbing out unwanted roots and rhizomes. While we’re at it, why not add some organic matter? It might be a good time to clean out the coop, hutch, shed, or stable and incorporate the manure and bedding into the garden. Other amendments, such as Azomite and other supplements for the soil, can be mixed in as directed. A nice, thick mulch will keep these valuable materials from getting washed out, and will facilitate easy garden care in the springtime.

At this point, we could put the garden to bed; or, if we’d like to plant garlic – hold off on mulching until garlic is planted. Also, it’s a great time of year to plant trees! As long as there is adequate moisture in the soil from planting time until the freeze, a tree, shrub, or vine should do just fine and won’t normally need to be watered extra in the spring. Go ahead and move, transplant, plant – whatever – and make sure it get’s plenty of water.

Speaking of trees, it’s a good idea to label them and wrap their trunks to the snowline with a tree guard. (I prefer tin foil! So inexpensive, useful, and recycle-able!)

It’s the end of the gardening season for sure, but for the wise and savvy gardener, it’s just the beginning of activities and refreshing times outdoors!

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