Protect Your Garden Before The First Frost
As we are in late Fall and Winter is silently knocking on our door, YOU, as a passionate gardener, have to find a way to protect your garden properly.
In case you are a beginner in the gardeners world, these tips will come quite handy.
Once autumn begins, you should start considering all issues that frost and freezing weather may cause to your plants.
An early freeze may cause them to drop prematurely their leaves and cause possible tissue damage, but, even so, most of them will survive ’till next spring.
1.Bring All Tender Plants Indoors
Some plants can’t handle even a light frost and it is a good idea to bring them IN as soon as possible.
Many people are being inconsiderate about the life of plants generally, and let them die after a freeze hits severely.
However, if you grow tender annuals and perennials in pots and you want to save them, move the pots into the garage or into the house, and take them back out when the weather warms a bit, at least for a week or two.
This process allows the plant acclimate better to drastic changes in growing conditions.
It is recommended to bring tropical plants into the house(or a garage)before temperature drops below 45 degrees F( 7 C).
Before you bring them into your house, spray them with pesticides – especially plants that appear to have pests (spider mites, aphids and mealy bugs).
You can use a solution containing neem oil that works best for treating these pests.
Once the plants are inside, cut back on watering and withhold applying any fertilizer until next spring.
And of course, prepare your house for “welcoming” plants, and put them in the most suitable spot so they can make it through Winter.
Evergreens in pots can be especially vulnerable at winter time, as if their roots freeze, they may not make it through the winter.
Evergreens groomed in small pots should be protected accordingly.
- Place them against a wall and cover the pots with mulch or shredded leaves
- Keep them watered throughout the winter
- Don’t allow the root balls of evergreens in the garden dry out completely
4.Protect Your Vegetable Garden
Fall veggies, especially tender seedlings, may need an extra protection, although most can survive temperatures of around 28 degrees F (-2 C)with little or no tissue damage.
However, keep a few blankets handy to cover crops overnight.
If temperatures rise above freezing during the day, remove the blankets so that excessive heat doesn’t accumulate beneath the coverings.
Some people use clear plastic to protect their plants.
But be careful!
Plastic causes more accumulation of heat, which is good, but if you don’t take the plastic off before direct sun hits it the next day, your plants will cook easily.
5.Grow Hardy Herbs
Some herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, can overwinter in their pots outdoors and they are definitely plants you’ll want to have in your garden.
6.New Plant Growth
Eventually, some plants may actually start to put on new growth, in response to cooler temperatures, especially if summer temps were really hot.
Remember, that new growth is tender and unless it has a chance to harden off before a freeze, it may die back.
7.Clean Out The Pots And Store Them In A Protected Area
If you want to protect your garden pots, keep in mind that frost can wreak havoc on other features in your garden as well.
Remove soil from pots as they may crack due to low temperatures. Find some free time to scrub them thoroughly with a solution made of one part bleach to nine parts of water.
8.Store Watering Cans
Due to low temperatures, galvanized watering cans may expand and crack if you have left water in them. Empty watering cans and place them where they can’t collect rainwater.
…you’ll still need them next year…
9.Protect Water Features
In case you have water features in your garden, you should protect them accordingly during winter.
Small water features will freeze and that can ruin the pump and the pot. Therefore, make sure you drain them fully and store the pot and the pump in the garage where it is warmer.
If you have a lack of knowledge in this area, it is always a good idea to consult a pond installation expert on how to properly winterize your water feature.
You can also protect your garden by turning off water irrigation systems and set automatic timers to the “off” mode.
Make sure not to turn off the controller box completely, so you won’t lose the watering schedule and have to reprogram it next season.
Oftentimes, it may be necessary to drain or blow the water out of the pipes. Consult your local irrigation specialist on recommendations.
In case you have pipes that are above ground, wrap them with protective insulation like insulator tape, to keep them from freezing.
But make sure you don’t insulate or block air vents or the pump motor.
11.Protect Your Garden Pets In Case You Have A Fish Pond
If you have Koi fish, they survive the cold water with no problem. Just cut back on feeding the Koi because the more they eat, the more waste they produce, but their metabolism slows down as well.
In cold water the bacteria that breaks down their waste doesn’t work well, so to maintain water quality, limit their feeding.
As organics decompose in the pond they can produce toxic gases that could be trapped in the pond if it is covered by ice for more than a few days.
It is important to keep at least a small area free of ice so that these gases can escape.
Do not break the ice as the shock waves created can damage or kill your fish. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a floating de-icer.
This device floats in the pond and has a built in thermostat to turn the heating element on when water temperature drops below 40 degrees F (4 C).
They can also be used to keep a small pond from freezing solid, allowing your fish to stay alive.(source)
12.Plant Spring Flower Bulbs
If you want to keep your summer and fall flowering bulbs alive, it is a good idea to dig and store them. Plant some spring-flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips and plant them with their roots down.
Even if the bulb has a sprout at the top, it can still be planted successfully.
13. No Pruning Please
When going into winter months, avoid heavy pruning of trees and shrubs, but do prune away broken branches if any.
Touch up mulch at the base of plants once temperatures are consistently cold.
For added winter protection, especially in the perennial border, touch up mulch around plants.The layer of mulch should be about two to four inches deep..
It is perfectly fine to leave foliage that has died as it will help provide additional protection at the crown of plants.
15.Compost With Spent Plants
- Remove spent plants from the vegetable garden and add them to the compost pile
- Discard diseased plants in the trash
- Turn over the soil with a garden fork to expose underground pests to cold temperatures
- Planting a cover crop can help reduce soil erosion, capture nutrients, reduce weeds and enrich the soil for spring
- Winterize the compost bin by covering it with a tarp as this will help to keep the composting process going through the cold season
- Occasionally soak the pile with water to keep it moist
- Add an insulation of leaves or straw on the top and the sides of the pile
Caution: don’t work soil when it’s wet!
- Remove the foliage from around the base of rose plants as this action keeps foliar diseases from overwintering and coming back next growing season
- Prune away branches that show signs of decay or any insect infestation
- Cut long stems that can whip around in the wind
- Throw away diseased foliage and cut branches in the trash instead of composting it
- Spray roses and the soil immediately with a fungicide to protect plants through winter, and hopefully keep disease from overwintering
- Put generous layer of mulch, topsoil or compost, so it can help protect them against the cold weather
17.Remove Fallen Leaves
Fall is an ideal time for fertilizing your lawn. Remove fallen leaves by raking and composting, or mulch them with a mulching lawn mower.
Do this repeatedly until all leaves from the trees are on the ground .
18.Prepare Your Garden Tools
Within your efforts to protect your garden before winter time, you need to prepare your garden tools for the winter as well, as it will help prolong their longevity and make them usable for the next season.
- Wash off dirt that has dried and hardened onto garden tools, such as shovels and hoes
- Apply linseed oil to wooden handles to prevent desiccation and cracking
- Sharpen blades of tools, such as pruners, hedge trimmers and shovels
19.Drain The Hoses
- Drain garden hoses and take them inside for the winter, as water left sitting inside can freeze and expand, causing rupture and creating leaks.
- Repair leaky hoses and replace old and damaged washers and fittings
- Thoroughly rinse pesticide sprayers and fertilizer/grass seed spreaders
- Allow to dry before storing
20.Prep The Power Equipment
- Empty gasoline out of power equipment
- To empty your lawn mower’s gas tank, use it to mulch fall leaves on the lawn
- Give four-cycle engines, such as lawn mowers and tillers, an oil change. Two-cycle engines, like string trimmers, use a gas-oil mixture in the gas tank
- Although they don’t require an oil change, the gas-oil mixture should be drained from the tank and properly disposed
- Inspect spark plugs and replace worn out ones
- Check air filters and replace old, dirty ones. Scrape or hose off grass and other grime that has collected on power equipment, especially lawn mowers
- Remove blades and sharpen before putting them back on
21. Take Care Of The Birds
- Create a winter haven for your feathered friends
- Provide them with the essentials: food, shelter and water
- Keep bird feeders refilled throughout the winter season
- Drain and clean ceramic birdbaths before bringing them indoors
- Clean all other birdbaths and keep them refilled
- Provide shelter from the cold by way of birdhouses, or, place nest-making materials such as yarn, hair and dried grass, around the yard for birds to collect.
For the time-being, just do what you’ve got to do, protect your garden thoroughly and go warm up yourself by the fireplace and enjoy winter.
Source: Home and Garden TV
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