A Final Fall Checklist as Winter Approaches
Here in my zone 5 garden we have turned a significant page in the gardening year. Last night we experienced our first killing frost. Luckily I put bed sheets over my tropicals: the hibiscus will bloom another day. The bananas are not so lucky as they are too big to drape sheets over them. The frost has done some damage but nothing permanent, according to Rudy, my right hand man. He is a native of the island of Grenada and knows his bananas. By next spring they will be good as new, he tells me. All of this activity draws to our attention the fact that we are well into the autumn season, regardless of what growing zone you happen to live in. That means that we need to be thinking of the jobs that are ahead of us that must be done before the really cold winter arrives. Winter (oh how I hate to use the ‘w’ word already!) is a wall for gardeners: miss the deadline that it conveniently provides and bingo, your garden is susceptible to goodness knows what. Rabbits, mice, frost, freeze/thaw cycles. They play their role in challenging the gardener to sharpen our focus on the issues that really matter.
– Putting the spiral plastic collars on young fruit trees to protect them from rodent damage.
– Spraying the broad-leafed evergreens with Wiltpruf (an anti-desiccant) to prevent the drying effects of winter wind.
– Fertilizing your lawn for the last time with CIL Winterizer (the most important application of the year).
– Sharpening the lawn mower, cleaning out the cutting deck and changing the oil: draining it of gas, after the last cut.
– Wiping down all of your digging and cutting tools with an oily cloth.
– Finally (I leave this to the end) hilling up the roses for winter to prevent damage from freeze/thaw cycles.
All of this provides a gentle reminder that now is a great time to plant spring colour in the form of spring flowering bulbs. Don’t do it now and you could be in for a dull early spring. Do it now and the colour that results will put a spring in your step, a smile on your face; it will lighten your burden and remind you that winter was just a necessary stop in our annual journey around the calendar. Without it we would not appreciate the beauty of spring nearly so much.
Keep your knees dirty.