August is the time of year when I neglect my flower gardens most. With all the hustle and bustle of preserving the bounty, my days are filled with the harvest and ‘putting up’. I love it all though… this garden bounty between the can shelves, freezers and jars of dried herbs. We’ve sown and now we’re reaping.
So now that Septembers arrived, lets talk about preparing for next years gardens. First off, I always draw my plans for both my vegetable gardens garden’s as well as my flower beds. I like to keep reminders of what I need to plant where and when along with other pertinent info that I would otherwise forget.
There are several things to consider when winterizing, dividing and mulching your gardens.
Now’s the time to start to plant fall bulbs and garlic.. You have until mid October but the temps are getting colder. Keep posted on a how and when to plant garlic!
The other thing August reveals to me is I don’t have enough things blooming compared to the other months. August has always been a hard time for me to pay attention… but not this year. I’ve got my list of what I need to transplant and where for next year in my garden journal.
Most perennials are cut back after we have had a killing frost in the fall. This usually occurs in late September or early October for us living in the Midwest, zone 4-5. Due to my location, I don’t ‘clean-up’ my beds. I leave the debris and the leaves because they act as natural mulches and help insulate my less hardy perennials, like lavender.
I clean my beds and remove the debris and leaves and do the necessary divisions/ splitting in the spring once there’s at least two to three inches of new growth.
If you have vegetable gardens, I recommend applying a layer of manure this fall so it will compost through the winter and be ready to till in the spring. I do this in my raised beds as well. In the spring we simply scratch it all in and put a six inch layer of fresh composted soil on top, and then we’re ready to plant.
A general rule of thumb when trying to decide when the best time to transplant and divide your perennials is if they bloomed in spring or early summer, divide or move in fall. If it bloomed in late summer or fall, it’s recommended to split in the spring. With the exception of daylilies and irises, which prefer an August move. One other factor is plants with taproots, like comfry prefer not to be moved at all, rather take an offshoot following the rule of bloom time.
Plants with tender crowns like Delphinium can be protected by filling an empty nursery pot with leaves and setting the pot over the crown of the plant. Place a rock or brick on the pot to keep it in place. The crown of the plant will stay dry and protected over the winter.
I often look for bargains at the big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes for typically expensive shrubs or other larger plants that they’re hurriedly trying to clearance out…’something’s better than nothing’ mentality for them. Well, I’m happy to oblige and I can honestly say I can count on one hand how many plants I’ve lost due to late fall planting. There’s a few tricks to having a successful fall planting.
*Place a deep mulch, at least a foot around the base of the plant.
*Water regularly until the first light frost.
*If it is a tender perennial, follow the step listed above for Delphiniums.
*Some shrubs might do better if wrapped for the winter as well.
By following these few simple tricks, I’ve had wonderful success with late fall plantings.
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Winterizing your gardens will give you peace of mind, knowing that your much cherished plants will have a better chance of survival. Be sure to follow the rules of proper plant division and the few tips on mulching and again, you’re sure to rest easy this winter knowing that you’ll enjoy those beautiful plants next spring!