Once the harvest season fades it's time to think about preparing your garden and plants for the coming winter months. A few days work over a couple of weekends will have you ready to go next spring. Winterizing your plants can make the difference in the success of your next harvest.
Here are my hints and tips.
Leave herbs, carrots, garlic, onion, potato, horseradish, leeks, parsnips, radishes, and turnips in the garden for harvesting through early winter. Mark the rows with tall stakes so that you can find them in snow, and cover them with a heavy layer of mulch.
Pull up tomato, squash, pea, and bean plants. If they're disease-free, compost them. If any are diseased, discard separately. Pull up and put away any tomato cages and stakes. Cover strawberry beds with a thick layer of hay.
Herbs like thyme, chives and cilantro, divide well and do good in pots. Bring in some of each in individual pots or clump them all together in a pot with a little more size so you can still have fresh herbs during the winter.
Cut back any faded or dead perennials. Mulch. Rake all the leaves from your lawn-if you have one. Compost them or use as mulch.
If some garden areas have gone to weeds, cover them with black plastic and leave it in place over the winter and into the spring.
Step 1: Roses Take a Winter Nap
It doesn't take much to keep your roses safe during winter. A little bit of work now will bring the promise of the beauty of the rose again come spring. And don't forget- Roses love garlic! Plant some bulbs of garlic near the base of your roses to make the rose bloom more scented. They compete for smell with garlic. It's a winning combination! And they love banana peels! You can make banana peel tea or just drop peels at the base of the rose.
Water roses regularly through the fall. Water well after first freeze. Roses like a good soaking before winter hits full force. Plants and trees can fight winter cold much better when they aren't dry.
Stop feeding and pruning in August. Leave the last of the blooms on the plant to form rose-hips. Rose-hips are the seeds of the rose and their growth triggers dormancy.
Remove any fallen or dead leaves and dead or diseased canes. Mulch roses with hay, compost or leaves. Bring soil up to just to where the stem joins the rootstock. If the winters are extreme, enclose rose base with a cylinder of chicken or other wire and fill with soil, leaves, compost, mulch, hay or pine needles. Don't use the soil at the base of your rose to mulch. You will likely disturb the delicate root system. Get soil from another part of the yard or garden.
Climbing roses are especially at risk of cold, harsh, drying winter winds. Most climbers bloom only on old or mature wood, so your winterizing will want to include keeping the old wood healthy during the dormant period. Before frost comes, bundle and insulate canes by wrapping burlap around canes. Or carefully pull down the canes and lay flat on the ground, and cover with soil, evergreen branches, hay or mulch. You can then cover with burlap that is pinned to the ground with stakes. Remove mulch come mid April. Wait until early May to hang canes back on trellis or fencing. Use the leaves from your yard for mulch. Run the lawnmower over loose piles of raked leaves to shred them and keep them from blowing away. Or compost them on your property.
Step 2: Tree and Shrub Care
Protect small trees or shrubs from extreme cold by surrounding the base with a cylinder of wire or fencing. Pack soil, straw or mulch inside. Inspect your trees and remove any broken limbs close to the trunk.
If you're planning on buying a live Christmas tree, dig the hole before the ground freezes. Store the soil you remove so it doesn't freeze in the garage or basement. Place a board over the hole. Mark the location so that you can find it in the snow. The chances of a live tree living after the holidays is increased by having it living outside as soon as possible after the indoor celebrating.
To overwinter a fruit or citrus tree in climates that freeze or to further protect a tree or bush in a container on a porch, wrap the trunk, base and larger branches with a strand of bright white Christmas lights. The ambient heat from the bulbs can effectively protect the tree from frost damage during the coldest days and nights of winter.
Step 3: Be Kind to Insects
Rock piles, leaves, old wood and branches-any undisturbed places in the yard make great insect habitat for overwintering.
Undisturbed piles in areas out of the way-under shrubs, trees and bushes and in corners of the yard are all essential to creating living space for bugs. Love them or hate them, they are essential to our own existence. Live and let live.
Learn the different insects in your yard and get familiar with which ones are beneficial to your garden and which ones to eradicate. The second picture is of a wasp carrying a grasshopper out of my garden! Good job!
Step 4: Garden Equipment
Hose all dirt from your tools. Dry well and oil with a dry cloth to keep rust away. Drain your hoses by hanging them and rolling them up to prevent cracking. Store hand tools, sprinklers, clippers in the garage, porch or tool shed.
Cover all outdoor faucets and exposed pipe with foam insulation made just for this job. This can save you the headache of burst pipes in the winter. For an exceptionally brutal cold, leave faucet on to barely drip all night to prevent pipes from freezing solid.
Remove yard decorations, windsocks, seasonal flags, whirl-a-gigs and such that won't overwinter well. Drain fountains and store pumps inside shed or in garage. De-ice stepping stones and walkways with 1 part vinegar, 3 parts water. Spray on surface night before freeze. Or alternately use sand or coffee grounds to give traction on frozen walkways.
If you feed the hummingbirds, remove their feeders right after labor day. This will encourage them to migrate for the winter. Do hang full feeder back out a month later so the die-hard and straggler birds will have some nourishment to help them over the winter months. Keep water out for any other animals who may overwinter in your yard.
Thanks for taking time to read my instructable. I hope you come away with some useful information. Let me know your favorite winterizing tip for the yard and garden.