Putting the Garden to Bed
A garden clean-up in early winter will reduce your workload next Spring when you have many other tasks to do in the garden. There are several steps involved with putting our gardens to bed including: cutting back certain plants, removing dead or diseased plants, protecting plants from winter weather, and prepping for Spring. Removing plants or debris with a disease or pest problem now ensures that your garden will remain healthy over the winter and into the next season.
Potted plants will need sheltering from very cold weather. Be prepared with covers or place near the garage or shed. Many can be indoors for a few extreme days. Freezing weather can cause terra cotta and ceramic pots to crack or break, so it is good time to empty, clean, and store them inside.
There is no need to over-tidy as fallen leaves and other debris will help prevent soil erosion and provide protection for dormant beneficial insects such as butterflies and bumblebees. Diseased plant material should be your main target by only removing anything damaged by a fungus or garden pest. Make sure to dispose any of the diseased plant material far away from your garden to keep them from being reintroduced.
Highway Fuel Co. accepts yard debris including leaves, grass clipping, branches, weeds, etc. This yard debris waste is diverted from landfills and turned into compost which is used to amend soil and grow healthy gardens. Learn more about our yard debris recycling here.
Dig Up Dahlias & Other Tubers
Flowers that form tubers such as dahlias, cannas, and elephant ears should all be cut back after a light frost and dug up for winter storage. Once they have been dug up, they should be cleaned and placed in a warm dry place for two weeks so they can cure. Once cured, they must be stored in a cool dry area where they won’t freeze. Tubers should be checked monthly to make sure they are not rotting. For more specifics on dahlia winter care check out Swan Island Dahlia’s How to Grow Dahlia’s in Fall & Winter.


Sow Some Seeds A light frost will kill annual flowers, vegetables, and weeds, leaving the soil surface bare. Take advantage of the space by planting some cold weather cover crops, such as clover or winter rye. These cover crops will be begin to grow as soon as the weather warms, which will add nitrogen and tilth ahead of Spring plantings. You can also add any flower seeds that require a cold stratification period such as poppies, milkweed and many other meadow flowers. It is also a good time to add soil amendments, such as compost or bark to protect the soil’s surface.