Garden Tidy Ups For Winter
December is one month you will have the shortest to-do list for garden maintenance before you close shop until the spring but before you do that, you need to make sure that your garden is prepared to survive the cold temperature and frost/snow. Close to the end of November or the first week of December, you should be rounding up your garden clearance chores and doing the final checks on whether you have harvested everything that needs to be taken off the ground before the first snow hits or whether you have skimmed out the fall leaves from pipes and the garden.
Weatherproof your potted plants or carry them indoors, clean your bird feeders, refill them and anchor the poles deep in the ground so that they are not uprooted by cold winds. You will also need to make sure that you demarcate the driveway from the lawn to ensure that you can plough snow away safely, without damaging your garden. You will also need to weatherproof your plumbing to avoid burst pipes when the snow melts.
Winter winds can be ferocious so make sure you get your saws and choppers out and finish trimming and hedging the torn and hanging branches that are obviously weakened but not broken off yet. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that you don’t wake up to a broken window or car screen on one morning. The last of the winter leaves will be falling to the ground, so rake them up and put them in compost before the snow gets to them. And when you are done with everything, you can sit back and make your next year’s planting and landscaping plans. Don’t wait too long to make notes for the future, start while the memory of this year’s gardening is still fresh. This is a good time to decide what you want to do differently in your garden next year.
Before you make your shopping list for next year’s shopping list for seeds, take stock of what you have left over from this year. As far as possible, buy organic seeds; there are a lot of varieties available at almost all gardening stores nowadays at very affordable prices. Because the seeds are still alive and will not be planted until next spring, make sure they are stored in a cool, dry place so that they are not infested or eaten by pests. A good way to store seeds is to put them in double plastic zipper bags, squeeze out the air and put them in your freezer until you are ready to use them. Generally, seeds can regenerate only within a year or so, longer than that, you might have to a viability test before you plant them. Calculate wisely before you start sowing them towards the end of the winter. Although you can’t predict when spring arrives, make sure you are not too early with your new plants.
Fruits, leaves and other plant foliage that is left to wallow under the plants is a good place for garden pests to settle until they can overcome the winter. So make sure you clean them regularly all of winter so that you can avoid pest nuisance next season. Leave your mouse traps in the garden and check them often.
Roses cannot handle cold, so make sure they have added insulation during winters. Mound them with a 6-12 inch layer of soil before the ground freezes and then add a layer of leaf mulch. Anything else that is still out in the garden should be used up for soup and in holiday dinners as soon as possible. Make sure you inspect them for worms, mold and for spoilage in the storage.