Most homeowners know how important it is to winterize their home. They take the time to check windows, doors, heating vents, and air conditioners, but did you also know that your garden also needs to be winterized? Both your home and your garden need a little extra TLC as cold winter arrives. If harvest is nearly done in your area and you’re pulling the last of your pumpkins from the patch, here are some things you need to do to ensure that you have a productive growing season next year.
1. Stop Fertilizing
The first step in preserving your winter garden should begin in late summer. As soon as cooler weather begins you want your plants to switch from foliage production to healthy root growth. Fertilizers are typically made to encourage heavy foliage and blossom production, which is great if you have months of warm weather ahead. With colder days coming garden plants will go through the natural process of hardening-off in preparation for winter.
2. Water Heavily
Roots do most of their growing in the late-summer, early-autumn days. This is why you are supposed to plant bulb flowers such as tulips, daffodils, and crocuses in the fall. If you have had plentiful rain, then you can just continue to water as normal. Lack of water causes stress to a plant and going into winter with a stressed plant can lead to a winter-kill.
3. Clean Up Decay Causing Debris
Sensitive plants, such as roses, must have leaves and branches cleaned away from their base. That organic debris, if left in place, can lead to the growth of unhealthy bacteria, fungus, and create a hazardous situation for your plant. Prevent disease by removing debris.
4. Mulch Well
Consider mulch as the plant version of getting tucked in for a long winter’s nap. Fallen leaves, wood chips, and other clean, woody mulches are full of nutrients that your garden needs, but they require a considerable amount of time to break down. Mulching adds these nutrients as well as offers protection to the structure of the plant itself.
5. Get Covers Ready for Tender Plants
If you have opted to grow plant varieties that may be a stretch for your climate, plant covers are your best winter garden tool. There are fancy materials on the market and mini-greenhouses that are effective at protecting roses, woody perennials, and some fruit trees, but often an old blanket and a length of rope will work just as well.