Overwintering Your Garden Checklist

Are you finished with the garden for the year? Has frost started appearing overnight? Don’t wait until the snow hits to clean up and overwinter your garden. Start now! Here’s a checklist…

  • Find your bird feeders and clean them up. Also, stock up on suet and high-protein bird food.
  • If you have any outdoor containers, empty them to keep them from cracking. If you can store them in the garage or the barn, even better. Don’t stack clay or plastic pots.
  • Mulch your berries. This is a strawberry bed we started last month, and strawberries need a couple inches of mulch or straw to protect them from the snow and ice. Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries need to be pruned and mulched around their base. You don’t need to be in a hurry to get this done. You can wait until the hard freeze when the plants have died back and gone dormant.
  • Round up your sprinklers and nozzles, drain your hoses and watering cans, and store all inside. If you have numerous nozzles and attachments, place them in a bucket so you don’t have to hunt for them come spring. If your water spigot tends to freeze, wrap in a sliced pool noodle.
  • Take care of your pollinators. Place a large pile of leaves in the corner of your garden for the bugs to winter in. If you have too many leaves, mulch some and spread around your perennial plants. Any left-over leaves can go directly in your compost pile.
  • Cover your compost pile with a thick layer of straw, plastic, or weed barrier cloth to insulate it and keep too much rain and snow from washing all those good nutrients away.
  • Do the annual winter maintenance on your machinery – lawn mower, tractor, tiller, etc.
  • Clean and store your garden tools. If you’re like me, you just found that hand shovel in the garden after losing it there in the spring. Wash, dry, sand off any rust, and rub your metal tools down with vegetable oil. It’s also a good time to sharpen those shears and trimmers.
  • Clean up your veggie beds. Dispose of old plants (don’t put diseased ones in the compost pile!), WEED, fork the ground to expose grubs to freezing temps, and either plant a winter cover crop, or cover with mulch, straw, or weed barrier cloth. I capitalized WEEDS because you don’t want any of those going to seed over the winter.
  • If you want some new bushes or trees, fall is the time to plant them.
  • Spring flower bulbs can also be planted now. Daffodils, crocuses, tulips, hyacinths will be a sweet sight come spring.

It seems we have a very tight window between the start of fall and the beginning of the busy holiday season – like a couple weekends, tops – so, don’t put it off. Get that checklist done. Come spring, you’ll be happy you did.

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