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Winterizing Your Garden

Fall has officially arrived and the summer gardening season is coming to a close. With this change of season, it is time for planting a fall garden and/or cleaning up and preparing your garden beds for winter. There are several steps you can take now that will give you a strong start for the spring growing season such as:

Clean up Garden Beds –
Remove all dead and diseased plants from garden area. Do not add any diseased plants to your compost pile. These plants should be burned or thrown away as some diseases and pests can over winter in compost piles if the piles do not get hot enough to kill the pathogens. It is better to be safe and not add diseased material to avoid future problems.

Compost -
Adding a good layer of compost to your garden beds will help increase biological activity and improve water retention for healthier soil. There is no specific need to incorporate the compost. It can be applied as a top dressing as the nutrients will be absorbed into the soil by bacteria and insects which will not disturb the complex ecosystem being created in the garden beds.

Mulch -
Adding 2 to 3 inches of mulch will help keep the root zone protected from harsh winter temperatures and conserve moisture throughout the winter months. It also helps to suppress weeds. Over time, hardwood mulch breaks down and provides a layer of organic matter for overall soil improvement.

Cover Crops -
Cover crops provide protection from erosion, suppress weeds naturally, increase water retention, and, in the case of legumes, naturally fix nitrogen to add back into the soil. The nutrients that are drawn from deep within the soil, are then made available to the root zone when the cover crops are mowed and incorporated into the soil when it is warm enough to work the soil for spring planting.

Nourish the soil -
Adding a fertilizer, such as our Nature Meals, and a soil conditioner, A-35, will aid your plants in storing up the needed nutrients in plant roots to sustain them over the winter months and give them a boost in the spring. It is a good time to submit a soil sample and receive results in a timely manner as the Extension office gets inundated with samples during the busy spring season. Getting results now will allow the time needed for the recommended soil amendments to start breaking down and provide positive results for the next season’s plantings.

Nitron carries a variety of organic soil amendments that can be added in the fall to build soil in the winter, and produce a better spring garden, such as:

Perennials -
Now is the time to divide your perennials! Dig up the entire root and divide at the joint. Replant immediately.

Trees -
Trim up your established ornamental trees and shrubs. Cut out the dead limbs and manicure the shape of your trees and shrubs. Do not prune your fruit and spring flowering trees such as: apples, pears, peaches, ornamental cherries, plum, and forsythia. These plants are establishing buds right now for spring bloom and fruit set. If you prune them now, you will not have any flowers in spring, which also means no fruit to harvest for that year’s harvest time.

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