Now that the cold weather is upon us, it’s time to start preparing our gardens for winter. Put your garden to bed with this handy checklist courtesy of Grow Pittsburgh’s City Growers program.
— Frost: A windless, cold, clear night usually means a killing frost. If one is coming, protect vulnerable plants.
— Annuals: Feed any crops that will be left in the ground for over-wintering; pull out and add non-diseased plants to the compost pile (put diseased plants in the trash). Dead material can harbor disease or pests if left in the garden plot overwinter.
— Soil: Apply soil amendments and compost to the garden area.
— Mulch: Strawberries and overwintering annuals get two inches. For fall planted perennials, spread a thin layer of mulch at planting, and then a thicker layer once the ground has frozen. Mulch bare beds with leaves, cardboard, straw, or burlap.
— Perennials: dig up, divide, and move to a new area of the garden. Plant new or replacement perennials. Pot up anything that won’t survive the winter (rosemary, for example).
— Asparagus: Cut the tops oﬀ and add a winter dressing of aged manure to the bed
— Raspberries: Cut back old growth, secure canes to stakes to protect them from wind whipping
— Trees and shrubs: stop fertilizing to allow this year’s growth to harden oﬀ before winter. Fall planting encourages good root development, allowing the plants to get established before spring. If weather is dry, provide water up until the ground freezes.
— Compost: Turn as often as possible to get it hot before winter settles in.
— Take down any hanging planters
–Inventory tools, clean, sharpen, and oil before storing for winter; repair broken tools
–Lawnmowers and weedwackers: after last mowing, run machines out of fuel and store in a dry place.
— Hoses: drain and put them away so they don’t freeze and burst
— Rain barrels: drain all rain barrels and store (in shed or upside down and secured so they don’t blow around). Reconnect disconnected downspouts.
Planning and Organization
–Map the different crops and their locations to refer to when planning for next year.
–Mark your perennials with permanent tags so you’ll know where and what they are when they die back at the end of the season.
For more great winterizing tips, check out the Urban Harvester, a weekly gardening blog written by Grow Pittsburgh’s Susanna Meyers.
(Photo of the Wiggins garden by Leslie Clague)