Preparing the Garden for Winter

Pests and plant diseases can overwinter in the soil. Be proactive and nurture an environment that will produce an optimum spring growing climate.
winter2Clean up Time
1. Cut back perennials—eliminating dead and spent foliage a few inches above the ground in the fall actually prevents disease from surviving on dead plant tissue. Think how much healthier and able to grow your hair is after a trim.
2. Remove annuals. Pull up annuals and the summer vegetable garden, roots and all. Feed them to the compost pile.
3. Rake leaf debris and weed garden.
4. Do not add compromised plant debris to the compost pile, but destroy infected leaves. Pathogens will overwinter in composts that doesn’t get hot enough.
winter3Dream Time—The Fun Part
1. Document with photos and diagram what plants are growing in particular locations. This is especially helpful for Southern gardeners who find their memories fading with either age or information overload. And prevents an overzealous gardener come spring from planting over and injuring dormant perennials. Also a great way to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work.
2. Winterize container gardening. Bring containers indoor or to protected area like a garage or basement. Don’t add fertilizer. Keep water to a minimum. You don’t want to encourage growth during the dormant season.
3. Test the soil to ascertain pH level and nutrient analysis.
4. Enrich the quality of the soil as needed with compost, blood meal, bone meal, etc . . . This addition to the garden in the fall will allow the compounds to break down into a plant usable form come spring.
5. Add a layer of mulch as a protective layer over the garden’s root system.
winter1Design Time—Autumn is the best time to plant certain trees, shrubs, bulbs and perennials.
Plan for color in the winter months with pansies, Lenten roses, camellias and daphnes.

For more gardening tips and ideas from Carolina Reckoning, visit