It’s the perfect time to tidy the garden

The colors of fall are evident throughout our region.

We all know in our heart the gardening season is very quickly coming to an end. Our average daily high temperature drops 2 to 4 degrees every week and we are losing about 14 minutes of daylight every seven days. After 5 nights of frost here It is time to cut back those perennials and compost the annuals. For those of us who are fair-weather gardeners the next two weeks are going to be good weather for putting the garden to bed.

As I sweep and tidy my storage building, I keep an eye out for those objects that could go to the curb for fall cleanup. I do the same with my potting bench cleaning, sorting and organizing as I go. With a clean slate it is time to remove and store all plant supports that have propped up our roses and peonies this summer.

With the plant supports out of the garden all herbaceous perennials should be cut down and composted. Any plant material that has powdery mildew should go to the landfill rather than the compost bed. Some gardeners wait until spring to cut down their perennials. For me spring is such a busy time of year I want to get as much done in fall as possible. I also like a tidy garden.

Roses should be pruned later in the season when you are sure they are dormant. For right now weed the bed carefully. I would cut any rose canes that are broken or are rubbing each other in the wind. You need to mulch the soil around the roses with compost being sure to keep the mulch 2 inches from the base of the plant. Do not fertilize. The roses are entering their time of rest.

Containers need emptied of plant material, set in the sun to dry and then brushed carefully to remove as much soil as possible. When they are ready for storage use cardboard to cushion the ceramic pots and saucers. Inexpensive plastic pots can be stacked but special containers deserve gentle storage.

Leaf cleanup is important. Everyone has their own methods. We mulch our leaves with the lawn tractor taking care to rake them away from trees and buildings. Many people rake all leaves and then compost. Do not allow autumn leaves to pile up and mat together. They can keep rainfall from getting to the roots of your plants.

Watch the weather and be ready to store outdoor furniture when it is dry, Clean well and winterize mowers, weed whips and blowers. Follow the directions that came with your equipment. Clean all tools. I remove any soil and then wipe with a little household oil. Drain outdoor faucets and store watering containers.

Enjoy these last days. Spend time relaxing in the lawn furniture before it is stored for the season. Build a campfire and toast the last marshmallows of summer.


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