Cold, wet, snowy weather always comes too early. It’s a good reminder that winter is just around the corner and it is time to put the yard to bed.
Recent rain and snow has added to the soil moisture but trees and shrubs that are not thriving, recent plants and evergreens should still be watered in. Place the end of a garden hose under the dripline of the plant and let the water trickle out for an hour or so and then move it to another location. If possible, continue this routine until the ground freezes. The extra water will be absorbed by the roots giving the plants a better chance of withstanding at surviving.
To help avoid shrubs and young trees being girdled by rodents, remove all the long grass within a few feet (meter) of the trunks and stems. Rodents will make their homes in long grass and feed on plants that they can reach without exposing themselves to predators. Take away their cover and the critters will go elsewhere.
If slugs were a problem this summer, clean the garden. Removing annuals, cutting back perennials and removing all leaves and debris will expose and remove both slugs and some of the eggs that will hatch next spring. Lightly cultivating or digging the soil will disturb eggs and adults.
Remove all the leaves and debris from under trees that had insect infestations as larva tend to winter under the tree they infest. The larva may be in the grass and debris or within the top inch or two (1-5 cm) of soil. Removing or disturbing their winter home will help control the insects.
Clean up fallen fruit and berries as the rotting fruit will attract undesirable creatures.
Once the ground begins to freeze, cover perennials, shrubs and vines that are not totally winter hardy. Approximately 6 inches (15 cm) of leaves, clean straw or peatmoss make a good insulating layer against the severe cold and fluctuating temperatures. Vines can be taken down and then covered. Build a container around a taller plant with either a box or chicken wire then fill the area between the container and plant with the insulating material. Leave the material loose enough to contain air spaces but no large air pockets.
Plant hard neck garlic and mark the area to remember where it is in the spring. One of the best places to find hardy garlic is from local growers. Many of these advertise or sell at the local markets.
Spring bulbs should be planted as soon as possible to allow them to develop roots before the ground freezes. Follow the planting instructions on the package or use the basic rule of thumb that bulbs should be planted three times as deep as the bulb is tall. Always plant a bulb, pointy side up.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached