By MARY LANE GEWECKE
As the gardening season comes to an end, there is still much to do.
It’s never too late to start planning for spring or next summer. Before packing away for winter, it’s a good time to take inventory of seeds, tools, and other gardening equipment. Make a list of seeds to purchase next spring and any replacement tools or supplies needed.
Seed from coneflowers and black-eyed susans (along with many other perennials) can be collected and saved for next spring planting. Remove the seeds from the pods and allow to dry, then place in an envelope (label the name of the seed and the date of collection) and store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator until spring. Unsown seeds can be stored in their original packages, as well as in airtight jars in the refrigerator.
Gardening tools should be cleaned after each use and especially before storing for the winter. Rust and hardened soil are more difficult to remove when they remain for months.
People also read…
Fertilizers and pesticides should be stored out of direct light – liquids in a frost-free environment and granules in a dry place.
If not done already, harvest the vegetables left in the garden. The leaves of herbs such as sage, thyme and oregano can be taken for drying or freezing.
Note which and where vegetables are planted this year. By moving plants grown in one area to a new location the following year – and again in a different location in year 3 – there will be fewer pests and diseases than if you grow the same vegetables in the same location year after year. This is especially important for tomatoes.
Don’t go crazy with garden bed cleaning. Ornamental grasses offer winter interest in the garden, and many perennials provide seeds for birds in winter. Perennials subject to wintering should be left uncut. Standing trunks trap snow to provide insulation that increases winter hardiness (let’s hope we have snow this winter). I’ve found that mums can survive even bitter winters, especially if they stay up until spring. Plants can be covered with evergreen boughs or mulch after the ground freezes for added insulation.
November is too late to plant perennials, but some shrubs and trees can still be planted while the ground is still working. Wait until spring to plant fruit trees and evergreen shrubs or trees.
During this challenging garden season, take time to be grateful for what’s happening in the garden, then relax and enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving.
Since 2004, Marie Lane Gewecke has been a Master Gardener volunteer with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus program. She is also a self-employed planning consultant.