As the last of the leaves drift off the trees, there still may be some last-minute chores to do in the garden. Here, the Savvy Gardening experts explain what remains to be done in their plots before the weather starts to feel more like winter than fall.
Niki says: “Stretch the harvest with mulch: By mid-November, most of the trees that surround our lawn and garden have shed their leaves. Before we rake them into bags, I shred them into little bits by mowing over them a few times. Once gathered, those bags are then moved up to our vegetable garden. I use leaves throughout the growing season (to mulch tomatoes, in our pathways, to enrich the soil), but I also use them in late autumn to insulate root and stem crops, like leeks, carrots, beets, celeriac, and parsnips for winter harvesting. For super-simple tips on how to mulch your cold-season veggies, check out this post.”
Tara says: “I live on a ravine, so I get a LOT of leaves in my backyard. Like a thick carpet. Now, I’m all about NOT cleaning up my garden in fall, but I can’t leave a thick leaf mat on my grass. So, I make free leaf mold. I have a big pile at the back of my property where I’ve got a couple of piles going. I also run some leaves over with a lawn mower and put the shredded leaves in my raised beds and other gardens. It’s ok to leave the shredded leaves in the grass, too. Here are some other uses for those fall leaves.
Jessica says: “One important chore I never ignore before winter is draining and storing the hoses. I have several expensive hoses and hose nozzles I don’t want to be damaged by winter’s freeze-thaw cycles. To prepare them for winter storage, I fully extend all the hoses after disconnecting them from the spigot and allow them to completely drain. I store the nozzles in the garage, where it never falls below freezing. The hoses get coiled and stored on wall hooks in the shed. Every spring, I replace the rubber washers inside the connectors to keep them from leaking.”
Tara says: “One of the tasks I often leave to the last minute (often because things are still growing) is taking my containers apart and preparing my pots to be stored for the winter. I’m usually not a fan of this task because it takes some effort to get the root-bound clusters of plants out (using my soil knife helps with this) and then tidy up the pots, but it must be done because I don’t want any of my special terra cotta and ceramic pots to break. Freezing and thawing cycles throughout the winter can cause the soil to expand resulting in cracks or broken pots. This has happened to me before! I also like to save some of the plants. Perennials are planted somewhere in the garden and certain annuals come inside. Other plants I’ll just stick in a raised bed because they don’t seem finished yet. My lemongrass, for example, will still taste good even when it starts to dry out and doesn’t look as appetizing. Here, Jessica provides some tips on what to do with your old potting soil.