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Ideally by now I’d have most of my fall gardens put to rest for the winter.

My flower beds would be clear of dead annuals and debris (except for those straggler leaves) and my veggie garden would be amended with compost and nutrients to break down over winter and replenish the soil. Like I said, ideally. Realistically if you procrastinate like me, there is no need to panic to get your beds settled for winter. Remember that gardening should be fun and not stressful!
There are no hard fast rules when it comes to timing:

  • As long as you can work the soil, you can incorporate what your soil test recommends into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil. Depending on how much snow and rainfall your area receives during the winter will determine how long it will take for your soil to soak in the bounty. On average it is a 3 to 6 month process. Just in time for spring planting! You can also continue planting bulbs for spring and summer blooms until the ground freezes.
  • Now is a good time to collect pinecones, dried grasses and seed pods for holiday decorations. If you don’t have these items in your yard, try a local park, or ask neighbors, friends or relatives. I like to place these items in a small wicker basket with a few gourds and mini pumpkins to make a lovely Thanksgiving centerpiece. I also like to use pinecones for winter wreaths and Christmas tree ornaments. Pinecones can be attached to a wire-based craft wreath with florist’s wire. Add ribbons and real or artificial holly sections for a festive look. While you’re at it, make a few extra for gifts!
  • Don’t forget the season is also changing for your indoor plants. Most houseplants will cut back on producing new foliage and slow down on overall growth. Stop fertilizing your houseplants to allow adjustment time for a much needed rest period. Fall is also a good time to check your home for upcoming hot and cold spots as winter approaches. Move the plants away from exposure to cold drafts, heat vents and other heat sources. Survey the light situation in your home and move plants to a brighter area or install artificial lighting if needed.
  • If you plan on replanting a live B&B (balled in burlap wrap) Christmas tree, dig the hole now, fill it with straw then mulch and mark the area. Store the soil from the hole in a garage or shed to keep it from freezing. A good rule of thumb is to dig the hole 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep. This should accommodate up to a six-foot evergreen tree which has an average size root ball of 18 inches.

Don’t forget that autumn is not the end, only another season in the life of your garden. Sit back and enjoy what autumn has to offer!

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