By Mel Lockuff
Here in Arkansas it seems we sometimes go from beautiful, summer-like, fall weather right into the chill of winter. We normally try to winterize our garden mid-fall. This year we did part of it then and part of it after it’d already gotten cold. Better late than never, right?
When I say winterize, I’m referring to a really simple process of cleaning out the garden and cultivating the soil just a bit to get it ready for the long winter ahead. Of course, there are also specific things that plants like roses and mums need, as well.
Let’s start with the garden.
Winterize Your Garden
We keep it really simple when it comes to this process. The first step is to pull out and clean out all the dead or dying plants.
You’ll definitely need a wheelbarrow or a wagon for this step. Usually, by mid to late fall, plants are giving up for the season; they’ve had enough. While you’re cleaning out, be sure to store away any stakes you used and throw all of your trash, including ties, away; don’t leave them on plants you may be adding to your compost pile.
Once you’ve removed all the plants, it’s time to work up the soil just a bit.
Remove any mulch cover, and either till or use a rotary cultivator to work up that soil. You can also add in a few bags of humus, which is a kind of dark soil formed by the decomposition of leaves and plants.
Once you’ve worked that into your soil, re-cover with the mulch you’d previously removed.
We use pine needle mulch in our raised beds.
Winterize Your Roses
With ordinary roses, the process of winterization is fairly simple, though I looked to Today’s Homeowner for tips on how to do this. There you’ll find all the details for different types of roses, including climbing roses.
It’s important to start by clearing away any diseased or dead leaves from around the plant and on the plant.
Prune the rose bush to around 3 feet above the ground. You can use wood glue to seal any major cuts you make to the bush. I just added it to the tips of major rose canes.
Next tie the rose canes together to protect them against winter winds, and mound about a 1-foot hill of dirt around the bottom of the rose bush. Then hill it up with mulch over the dirt.
Winterize Your Mums
Mums are super easy to winterize, and if you do them right, you’ll have beautiful mums sprout up again the next year. Gardening Know How was my go-to resource for learning how to properly care for my mums.
I’d already planted my mums in the ground a few weeks before, and they’re in a fairly sheltered spot between our raised beds and our house, also under the eaves of our house. This gives them a little more protection.
Start by trimming your mums to about 3 to 4 inches above the ground. Then just add a thick layer of mulch; for this, you can use leaves.
We have so many leaves right now, so I added several handfuls of leaves all around and on top of each mum.
Other Winterization Tips
I would also add to take down any hanging pots, remove standing pots, and put them all away in a shed or garage for the winter. We made the mistake of leaving our old crock out in the winter weather, and it finally cracked this season. I have plans to fix it, but that just about broke my heart. So, take care of your pots and flower boxes by storing them away for the winter.
What tips would you share for winterizing your garden and flowerbeds?