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Gardening With Gutner: Preparing For Winter

By Mark Saidnawey, WBZ Gardening Expert, Owner of Pemberton Farms
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BOSTON (CBS) – As we near the end of October and the nights get colder, it’s time to start preparing your garden for winter.

Cleaning and winterizing your garden beds not only makes your garden look clean and neat it also helps insure proper insulation and protection from those long winter months ahead.

And if you do it now it will make for easier work in the spring!

Before you start your clean up, take a moment to review what worked and did not work in your garden over the past season.

Take photos and make notes so once the flower catalogs start arriving this winter you can work on your plan for next year.

If you have time, now is a good time to move plants (or remove plants) if you feel that they are not working in their current location.

This is also the time to plant spring blooming bulbs like tulips, daffodils and lots more.

If you get really inspired now you can also divide certain perennials.

Division not only maintains the health of your perennials but it’s also an easy way to propagate your plants so that you’ll have more coverage next season.

THE CLEAN-UP

Start your clean-up by removing all weeds and spent annuals like impatiens, marigolds, petunias, etc.. from your beds. Next you should spend time cutting back your deciduous perennials. Many gardeners like to leave the dried stocks of some perennials for winter interest. This is completely fine. Just be sure to remove any diseased foliage from the plants prior to your final clean up as the spores will over winter and re-emerge next spring. Additionally, seed heads of some perennials (such as Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan), Echinacea, Achillea, and Buddleia) are quite attractive and provide food for birds during the winter. For shrubs and trees also be sure to remove diseased leaves and if you are wanting to prune them only light pruning is recommended in the fall as it may stimulate new growth just as the harsh winter is bearing down. Be sure to dig up your Non-hardy bulbs, such as cannas, dahlias, begonias and gladiolus. Let the bulbs dry out in the sun for a few hours before storing them in a cool, dry place for the winter, such as a garage, attic, or basement.

WINTERIZING SHRUBS AND TREES

Winter’s wind can dehydrate any plant above ground during the winter months so we need a way to protect them. The old school method is to hammer in three or four stakes around the plant and then take a few turns with a roll of burlap to make a windscreen. Not too pretty but very effective, especially if you stuff the top of the screen with straw or pine boughs. The new method is to spray your plants with an anti-desiccant like Wilt-Pruf, creating a waxy coating on the leaves and needles to seal in the moisture. These sprays work great while they’re on, but it’s my experience that they usually need reapplying right around the time the nastiest storms of January and February are hitting, so remember to stock up for that second application.

WATERING

It’s a good idea to water your garden thoroughly before the ground freezes. Even with snow, winter can be very dry and harsh for many trees and shrubs, such as evergreens and rhododendrons, so it’s best to provide them with a large supply of moisture before the extreme winter weather arrives.

CLEANING AND STORING TOOLS

Once your cleaning and cutting is done, it’s time to give some love and care to your tools. Clean, oil, and sharpen your tools, then store them in a dry place for the winter. Drain garden hoses and store them coiled in a sheltered place where they won’t freeze and crack. It’s a little extra work, but come spring, you’ll be delighted to pull out your tools that are ready to go to work with no fuss or muss.

THE BIRDS?

Winter is the time when birds rely on us most for a food and water source. Even though natural foods are still plentiful now we should get our feeders out soon as possible as the birds that do visit feeders in the autumn are scouting for a winter source so they are ready when cold weather hits.

Well, that will do it for this season. I hope you have enjoyed these blogs as I have enjoyed writing them. If you have any comments or suggestions for 2012 please let us know.

Watch Gardening with Gutner:

Happy End of Season!

Mark@PembertonFarms.com

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