Unless you’re surrounded by snow, it’s not too late to ready your garden for winter. Which, if you do have snow, lucky you. The snow has done much of the work for you and the rest can wait. If you’re snow free or you live in a mild climate, you still have time.
Now’s your chance to dream big, reflect on what’s next, zip around with buckets of mulch, pruning shears and time release fertilizer. All in the name of love — for the flowers that take your breath away and the dirt that provides so much raw inspiration.
Here are a handful of productive and satisfying chores, especially when the air turns crisp and leaves litter the ground:
- Protect your soil with mulch or cover crops. If you haven’t already planted cover crops it may be too late. If you’re in a warmer climate you probably have time for fava beans. They’re amazing. They improve soil tilth, add nitrogen, cover from winter rains and have the added benefit of edible shoots and flowers. Dress fallow raised beds with a healthy layer of straw, seedless rice straw if you can get it, and for extra love spread one to two inches of organic manure first. Add a heavy layer of leaves or needles to perennial beds once the ground is frozen.
- I like to cast an organic, time release fertilizer over my perennial beds before mulching or before the first snow fall. Biosol or something similar is perfect. It will be there waiting when the ground thaws, ready to give your plants the extra boost they need. Plus critters like voles tend to steer clear due to its lovely aroma.
- Tidy up dead foliage, leaving the best for winter interest and wildlife.
- Divide crowded, spring/summer flowering perennials if your ground isn’t yet frozen.
- Give your wildflowers and other self-seeders a head start. It’s time to spread seeds like lupines and others that need winter weathering to germinate.
- Are your pruning shears ready? Pruning madness is at hand and your perennials will love you for it. It may seem like a tedious task but it must be one of the most rewarding. Grape vines, roses, lavender, fruit trees, you name it. I can think of few plants that don’t benefit from pruning and many perform best when pruned in winter. However it helps to read up, some plants flower and fruit on new wood and others flower on old wood. Wait to prune perennials with pithy stems like butterfly bush until after the last frost. See my https://www.pinterest.com/passthepistil/pruning-madness/ Pinterest page for more inspiration.
- Design, rethink and plan. Every day is a perfect day for creative thinking and scheming but winter is the season of perspective.
Get moving. Don’t miss a moment. At the end of the day this list is a disguised excuse to get outdoors, get your hands in the dirt and cultivate a little love — experiences worth a repeat performance.