Clean-up is important at this time of year with your perennial borders, your vegetable garden and especially your lawn. These tips may sound simple and repetitive but they are worth repeating.
Start with perennial areas by cutting down all the dead seed heads and tidy up the crowns. If you need to mulch any newly planted perennials, do not spread mulch until the ground is frozen. Otherwise, to repeat an important message, you create a safe haven for destructive rodents when you mulch too early. It should act as an insulating blanket to keep the ground from repeated freezing and thawing, which heaves newly planted perennials out of the ground. It is also a good time to clean up the edging on your borders and plant beds. The grass roots still grow actively in the fall and early winter; until the ground is frozen. Edging keeps the grass roots at bay. Remember to plant your bulbs.
In your vegetable garden, you should remove (burn or dispose of) dead or dying vegetable plants. Do not compost. The remains tend to harbor disease spores and insect eggs that can be problematic come spring. Don’t forget to plant your garlic in conjunction with your bulbs.
And don't forget your lawn. It should stay as clean as possible. Keep the leaves to a minimum. One way to make it easy is to set your mower about 1/2” lower. By cutting the lawn shorter, it makes it easier to maintain the leaves. The leaves and grass clippings are a great source of compost if no harmful chemicals are used on your lawn. Insecticides, herbicides and fungicides are all no-no’s for organic composting.
If your garden is clean, there are fewer problems with next year’s growing season. It is particularly important with this year’s excess rain and the many diseases that transcended our gardens. Phyllis Diller sums it up best in our inspirational gardening thought of the day. All you have to do is replace the word ‘house’ with ‘yard’ or ‘garden’. “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.” No excuses, though. Keep your bed and your garden clean and all will be healthy.
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