Monday, November 30, 2009

Five Winter Chores for the Summer Garden

(crossposted at BlogHer)

This morning started with bright sunshine for me and I was reminded that this is the perfect time of year to get those final garden chores done to insure a successful growing season next year. (Please to ignore that this year was a disaster). Whenever it is dry and the soil can be seen and worked, we owe it to ourselves to spend a little time outdoors.

What can be done if our gardens are not actively growing?

First we can continue to weed. I've found that the most persistant weeds are often the only visible growth in the winter garden -which makes this an ideal time to attack them. These weeds tend to have root systems that encourage additional growth when damaged, so digging a small clump of soil around each weed and throwing the entire thing away is the most effective weed control. DO NOT COMPOST these clumps. They have persistence in their genes and will likely survive even the hottest compost pile.

Second, we can add amendments. Many garden centers and home improvement stores will have compost and soil additives on sale to clear out for the winter months. Now is great time to empty your own compost bins and add additional organic material to your beds. These can act as additional winter mulch in colder regions-insulating the roots of perennial plants- while in warmer climates they will be available for your winter gardening use.

Third, we can do cleaning and maintenance on our garden tools. When the weather outside is frightful, spend some time indoors cleaning, sharpening, and tuning your garden tools. Make sure all metal tools are free from rust, lightly oiled and all cutting edges are sharp NOW. If any tool needs to be repaired or replaced, start making that list now.

Fourth, look back on the growing season past. What were the successes this year? What flowers and plants do you want to make sure to grow next year? What were your failures and how will you try to avoid repeating those? Did you fall prey to the home center's eagerness to display plants and get things in the ground too early? Did you not notice insect or disease damage quickly enough? A little introspection on the year is a great learning tool.

Finally, begin to plan for next year. With last year's notes fresh in your mind, grab a calendar and begin to plan for next year. Make notes on when to plant -not too early, not too late. Winter months can be spent paging through the seed and plant catalogs, planning your garden year. But get the basics set now.

What others are doing in their gardens:

Margaret Roach reminded us that Conifers Are Forever (not just for the holidays).

The Dirt pointed to an interesting way to fight climate change: turn the Australian and Saharan Desert into forests.

Daisy the Groundskeeper at Compost Happens is still searching for The Fabled Fairies of Thanksgiving. (this made me laugh).

Emma from Coopette has a dilemma. She has discovered that teabags are not 100% compostable anymore (having a fine plastic mesh to keep the bags from breaking) and must decide what to do in the future. Did you know that your tea bag isn't completely breaking down in the compost?

Nelumbo, a girl growing Southern, expanded her own compost piles this fall (good time to do so) and wrote the details as a basic tutorial.

Kate of High Altitude Gardening shared some of the best of her holiday indoor flowering plants.

The Inadvertent Gardener threw in the towel and threw out the plant.

What gardening plans do you have for the next few weeks?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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