Winter has made a rather quick appearance this year, with a sudden cold snap in the last week or so. For gardeners, this means it’s time to pull all the stops out so you can get everything ready for the spring.
Keep your evergreens looking great over the colder months by clearing up any weeds and diseased soil in the plant bed, which is fairly easy to do. Pull up anything unsightly and dispose of it, and be sure to trim off any diseased or dying sprouts to protect the rest of the plant. If you’re expecting frost or snow, you may want to keep some fabric nearby to make an overnight cover, but otherwise mother nature will do her job.
To prep your perennials for the next year, it’s important to give them a good pruning while they bunker down. Again, trim off any diseased bits and dispose of them, and change the surrounding soil to keep them fresh. Any stems with seed heads should be left to germinate over the winter. Wait until the ground freezes before adding a foot of fresh soil to the plant bed – this will prevent rodents nesting in the garden and eating your plants.
Protecting Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs may need extra shelter from harsh winds, so any young trees should have a shield. Using a wire grid and cable ties, create a cage around the stem or trunk to give it some security, or use a support pole and old tights to secure any particularly fragile stems. Rose trees may need extra protection, so keep some burlap cloth handy for wrapping around your wire frame during the coldest months.
For safety as well as plant health, you should make an effort to clear debris often in the autumn and early winter. Fish out any autumn leaves from the gutter, lest they freeze and cause a blockage later on, and dispose of these. On a dry day, use a leaf blower to clear big spaces of leaves, but be sure to rake these up later for composting.
The key difference between compost and rot is activity and heat – your compost bin needs to be warm and well-churned to support a nutritious breakdown of plant matter. Fallen leaves and healthy plant debris make healthy compost, so be sure to only include these and discard any material that looks diseased or pest-ridden.