By now you have probably taken the steps to prepare your outdoor power equipment for cold weather storage. But have you prepared your garden for the winter weather? Here are some insights on winterizing your garden and preparing it for a splendid spring.
• Now is the time to begin mulching perennials, shrubs and trees. In warmer climates, do this at the end of the season. Further north, wait until the plants have become dormant or the top one inch of soil freezes. In very cold climates, adding an additional layer of mulch after the ground freezes prevents frost heaving during milder winter temperatures.
• Making leaf mold or compost is relatively easy by blowing leaves and shredding them, or mowing them to shreds, and piling them up for the winter. STIHL makes this task easy with shredder vacs that also convert into blowers. Once your leaf pile is ready, moisten them if necessary and cover the pile with a tarp.
• In areas where deer and rodents are a problem, prevent them from chewing on the trunks of young trees by wrapping the trunks with hardware cloth.
• Double check any houseplants that were brought in for winter, and make sure that invading pests such as aphids or mealy bugs are not becoming a problem.
• You will want to be sure to monitor the precipitation, including snow and ice, in your area and water, if necessary, to prevent winter drought. If you need to water, make sure the temperatures are above 40 degrees and that it’s early enough, around the middle of the day, so that the water will be able to soak in before freezing night temperatures.
• In Southern areas, the dormant season is a great time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials, so they can root in over the winter and be ready to grow in the spring. A planting auger from STIHL is ideal for mass flower plantings or deep root fertilization. When you install bulbs, make sure to plant them when the temperatures are cool enough to prevent any top growth but so they still have several weeks of cold to produce blooms for spring.
• If you have not done so already, draw a diagram of your vegetable garden as it was this year, and begin planning your crop rotations for next year’s garden.
• To set up an indoor light system, replace any fluorescent light bulbs, if needed; and make sure everything is in working order to begin starting seeds for flowers and vegetables at the appropriate time for your region. Begin with cool season flowers, such as pansies, violas and snapdragons, and vegetables, such as broccoli and salad greens, to get a jump on the season.
• If there are predictions of a very severe cold snap approaching, protect evergreens from drying out by wrapping them with a frost protection cover or using an anti-desiccant to prevent the leaves or needles from drying out.
• During milder temperatures, always check perennials; and if they have heaved out of the ground, push them back down or use some extra mulch for protection until the weather warms up.
For a complete checklist from expert gardener P. Allen Smith, be sure to read the article, "What to Do This Winter in Your Garden"