Making sure that you prepare your garden for the winter months is equally as important as the planning and planting that you do earlier in the season. Autumn is the perfect season to not only put your garden to rest, but also to reflect on the growing season and come up with ways to improve in the following year.
To winterize your garden:
- Protect your garden beds (and plants within them) through winter
- Rejuvenate soil nutrients that were depleted during the growing season
- Preserve seeds that you are hoping to re-use
- Eliminate diseased plant material preventing problems in the following season
Checklist for putting your garden to bed
- Cut perennials back (leaving short stalks that are only 2-4 inches from the soil surface)
- Protect sensitive plants through the winter
- Plant wraps protect younger perennials from hungry deer and/or rabbits as they search for food in the winter
- It is important to remove these wraps when temperatures begin to warm in the spring- because they can restrict plant growth and cause additional problems
- Remove annual plants from the garden after they have completed blooming
- Make sure any diseased plant material is removed and destroyed
- Unfortunately composting diseased plant material could re-introduce the disease to your garden in the following growing season
- Add soil amendments to restore the nutrients and vitality to your garden
- Use compost, manure, leaves or certified weed-free straw
- Root crops can remain in your garden longer
- Protect them from freezing temperatures and frost damage
- Using mulches like straw and leaves can keep the soil at more consistent temperatures through the colder months
- Don’t forget to water your perennial plants throughout the winter
- Colorado winters can be very dry
- Additional moisture is often needed to sustain plants
- Winter watering should take place earlier in the day, and when temperatures are above freezing
Once you have completed these tasks, you can sit back, relax, and plan for another successful year of gardening! Give yourself a pat on the back for your successes.
If you have any questions about gardening, winterizing, or troubleshooting garden problems, you can submit a question to a team of extension experts nationwide: on Ask an Expert: (http://ask.extension.org).
CSU Extension hosts the Colorado Master Gardener program. This program is for anyone whether you are a backyard gardener, interested in landscape pruning or home composting, or are a green industry professional. The CSU Extension Colorado Master Gardener program provides 60 hours of horticulture training from subject matter specialists. Contact your local CSU Extension office for registration or questions.