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How to Prepare Your Garden for the Winter
By Stephanie Park
After months of colourful flowers and lush trees, the cold weather is quickly approaching. Just as we have to adjust our own
wardrobe for the winter months, your garden also requires attention to assure that it remains healthy year round.
Ken Ormsby of Ormsby's Garden Centre on Highway 26 in Meaford provided me with important information about preparing gardens for the winter. Ken stated that one of the biggest mistakes that people make is "not winterizing [and] not giving proper protection" to their plants and trees. In fact, Ormsby suggested that all "newly planted perennials or shrubs should get some winter protection for the first year." Try using burlap to wrap trees instead of plastic materials.
Most people are frustrated when the leaves fall from the trees and cover their lawn. Instead of just raking the leaves to put in a garbage bag at the side of the road, Ken suggests an alternative approach that can help your garden. In late fall, it is important that "leaves are put in their composter and [that] soil is added so they can use that in their gardens for years to come." This will allow you to reuse your leaves and have a beautifully maintained garden in the future.
Once you are done winterizing your garden, you can start planting produce for the fall. Ken explained that "people plant some vegetables, like carrots, [so that] they can harvest them all winter." It is important to consider time restraints when you start your fall gardening. "A lot of people believe in fall planting as far as perennials go….and if they do it soon enough there is a lot of moisture in the ground for them to get established before a freeze up," Ken said. He also advises that "when you get into evergreens you shouldn't plant beyond the middle of November at the very latest."
The unpredictable weather has made it difficult to properly plan for planting in recent years. Until three years ago, November 1st was considered the deadline for fall planting, but it has recently been pushed into mid November due to the lack of significant frost on the ground.
When it comes to winterizing your garden, it is very important to take precautions with fertilizer. Ormsby exclaimed that people should avoid fertilizing in the fall. If you must fertilize, Ken's advice is to use zero nitrogen fertilizer because nitrogen creates growth, which is not ideal for the fall season. By utilizing a fertilizer with phosphorus, you can create root development to guarantee strong roots during the tough winter months.
So when you are preparing your house and car for another season of blistery snow, don't forget to care for your garden to ensure that it stays healthy for next spring!