Fall into the Garden!

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 Now that we are well into the second month of fall, it’s time to get serious about preparing the garden for winter.  Here is a check list of chores that I try to get done between late October and late November before the distractions of the holidays and the onset of really cold weather. Have fun!
  • Blow out automatic sprinkler system and insulate tap. Our first hard freezes are predicted for mid-week, so get crackin'!
  • Remove hoses from faucets; drain.  Store hoses and sprinklers in a handy location for winter watering.
  • Winterize water features.  Drain, clean and store or cover fountains and pots.  Remove plant debris from ponds and set up a bubbler (a submersible pump with a short piece of pipe attached to the outlet) to keep some surface area free of ice.  Disconnect pumps to recirculating waterfalls---especially if the water volume is fairly low.  Ice buildup can divert water and cause problems.  Moving water will also make your pond colder, which may be an issue if you have fish.
  • Empty all containers of annual flowers or veggies (add healthy vegetation to the compost pile, dispose of the rest).  Remove soil – or the top 8-10” from large pots - (again, off to the compost pile!), and put containers into storage.  My “storage” is the back corner of my covered patio.  A shed or garage would also do the trick. 
  • Remove leaves from lawn areas.  I rake my leaves directly into my garden beds for a loose, temporary mulch.  I’ll remove them in the spring for composting.  You can also run your lawn mower over them and leave them, or rake them up for mulch or to compost.
  • Winterize lawn mower.  After the last mowing, run it until the gas tank is empty.  Clean mower and sharpen blade.
  • Add organic soil amendments  to planting beds.
  • Plant bulbs. I'm planning to wait another week or two for this project; once the soil temperature cools down a bit more we'll be good to go.  Here's an amusing take from landscape designer Deb Roberts on how you can tell when the time is right for bulb planting.
  •  Wrap young trees.  I don’t need to do this anymore, but here are the directions for “how-to”.
  • Clean up/cut back perennials.  I do most of this in the spring, because I like the structure and texture that many plants offer during dormancy.

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