We know you love summer. How do we know? Because we love it too. There’s no better time to be outside tending to a garden full of native Ontario plants than a warm day in July. But all good things must come to an end, and summer is no exception. Does this mean that the lovely garden you’ve spent the majority of a season cultivating should suffer? Of course not! Naturally, some plants do better in the summer than in the fall or heading into the winter, but there are some steps you can take to ensure that your lovely garden thrives as best it can as we head into the cooler months. After all, pretty soon the crispness of fall will be in the air, and we think your garden deserves a treat instead of a trick. This is what you can do to prepare your garden for fall.
Step one, like the first step in many preparation lists, is to examine your garden in its current state. This is your opportunity to take care of budding issues while the weather is still working in your favor and bolster your lawn or garden. Take note of which plants must be moved inside in order to survive, which areas need more soil, and which leaves, or plants are showing signs of diseases etc. This is definitely something you want to do now before the ground starts to harden, and it’s too cold to get out there and do it.
2. Collect Seeds
Some of your plants may not make it through the winter – particularly if the winter is a harsh one. Now is the time to go through your plants, collect and label your seeds so you can grow those plants anew next year when the snow melts and the ground softens. We’d love to save every single, beautiful plant in our gardens, but as Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner once wrote, “everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” You can’t stop the temperature from dropping, but you can prepare for your next gardening season.
3. Out with the Old
Not everything in your garden needs to hang around. Dig up those summer annuals and replace them with plants that love the winter conditions…Like this Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillate) for example
4. Bye-Bye Birdie
It’s inevitable that birds will move to a warmer climate once things get too cold, but one thing to keep in mind is to welcome birds into your garden for as long as possible. Not only do birds like hanging out around plants like Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), they’re also exceptional at keeping the insect population in check, meaning that your plants will be in tip-top condition to be harvested and moved inside for the duration of the winter.
One thing that we seem to always seem to leave to the last minute (if we even get to it at all) is organizing our shed. This isn’t something that’s necessarily going to make your fall garden any better, but it will alleviate you of that dull sense of, ‘ooh, I really should have done that sooner’ you’ll be feeling throughout the winter if you don’t do it! Go through your shed and organize or dispose of (carefully) any chemicals that shouldn’t be left out through winter, take note of what you’ll need to re-up on next summer, and tend to your tools to make sure they don’t lose effectiveness over the cold months. This one’s definitely a chore, but you’ll be thanking yourself (any maybe us) if you get to it before fall.
That doesn’t seem so hard does it? None of us like to see summer go, but prepping your garden ahead of time can help ease into the transition.
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