Home Map and Hours Classes and Events Employment

Welcome to Tagawa's Blog

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Putting the Garden to Bed

A lot of people who love to garden in Colorado especially like the fact that we have fairly well-defined seasons... a beginning, a middle and an end, of sorts, to the busiest, hands-on growing of things we care about.

But just because the most active part of the season is shutting down, that doesn't mean we as gardeners and homeowners have the next several months off. There are a lot of things we can be doing now to help the plants in our landscape come into spring strong and healthy. And there are even a few mid-winter gardening chores that are well worth our time and effort. Let's take a look.

It's clean-up time!!

While the soil is still loose and fairly warm, grab your cart or wheelbarrow and yank out all that dead plant debris. Dead leaves and stalks from flowers and vegetables are a great place for bugs and diseases to hang out over the winter, ready to jump back into the game next season.

If you put bedding plants in and amongst your perennials, those dead plants should come out too. Trim down the the top growth on your perennials to within a few inches of the soil line. Four or five inches of old stems left in place over the winter can actually help hold an extra bit of snow, or keep mulch in place, protecting the crowns of the plants in the process. The stems can be cut back to the ground at the first sign of new growth in the spring.

It's a great time to till!

Fall is the perfect time to amend our garden soil by tilling or digging in leaves or aged manure.... whatever disease-free organic material you have handy. Working the amendments in now gives the soil time to break that material down over the winter. Your beds will be ready to rock 'n roll next spring. And if we have significant rain or snow in April and May, you won't have to wait (impatiently?) for the soil to dry out before you can start your garden. As long as your work doesn't compact the soil, (which you never, ever want to do), you'll be good to go.

Turning the soil after a few nights of freezing weather is also a great way to fight back against the bugs that want to over-winter in our gardens. Disrupting the bugs' winter sleep can be a very good thing.

Say "hi" to "La Nina."

The weather folks say we're setting up for a winter-long "La Nina" pattern. As much as you may hate shoveling snow, La Nina is not a gardener's friend. The sytem tends to mean drier conditions for much of the Front Range. Bottom line: don't skimp on some supplemental moisture now, while the ground is still open and able to soak up some extra water.

"Winter watering" you say?

You may have shut down your automatic sprinklers for the season, but don't put the garden hose too far away. In addition to giving your trees, shrubs and perennials a nice deep drink now, be ready to do some winter watering. Every month when we haven't had a good wet storm pass through, drag out the hose and the sprinkler of your choice. Water on a warm winter morning when the ground isn't likely to freeze before the water can soak in.

Be especially careful with plants on the south and west side of your yard. Dry windy weather, even when it's cold, can be very damaging..... damage that may not become obvious until next spring. Why risk it?

Don't neglect your lawn. If it's still green, and you haven't fertilized within the past six weeks, it's not too late. A deep core aeration first will be an added bonus. But no de-thatching! Not now. Not ever! De-thatching damages the crowns of the grass plants, and can create far more problems than it solves. Core aeration is the way to go.

T.L.C. for trees

Nothing in our landscape is more valuble, or more time-consuming and expensive to replace, than healthy trees. So why not invest in a little T.L.C. to protect them?

Young trees... especially newly-planted trees... can be hard-hit by
the challenges that winter brings. Five minutes of your time and a roll of tree wrap can make a huge difference.

Tagawa's carries tree wrap. Our expert staff will be happy to show you how easy it is to use. The wrap should go on around Thanksgiving, and stay in place until about Easter. Wrapping your trees can prevent sunscald, where the tender bark on the south and southwest sides of the trees freezes and splits. Sunscald can stunt, and over time even the precious trees that give our yards so much character. Don't let it happen!

Easy-does-it with the pruners.

Avoid too much heavy pruning this time of year. Broken, dead or dying branches, or plants that are in the way of clearing snow from walks and driveways, can certainly be pruned as needed. But major pruning to shape a tree or shrub should wait until late winter or early spring, if possible.

The general rule of thumb on roses is to remove long, lanky stems that might be in the way or be broken by the wind over the winter months. But otherwise, protect the base of the plants by mounding them with mulch, or using rose collars, once we've had a few nights of temperatures down into the low 20's. (Tagawa's has rose collars, too, of course....) Hold off until spring to cut back your roses. The green growth that survived the cold will tell you just how much to prune away.

Invest now for benefits next spring.

Attention to these few "to do's" during the coming months
is nothing less than a full-fledged investment in the health and well-being of your landscape next spring and summer. A little time and effort now = fewer headaches down the road.

No comments: