It’s time to winterize the garden

Earlier this month some of you might remember waking up to frost on your roofs and possibly even on your lawn. That was our wake-up call that winter is coming and we need to do some preparation.

Here are some thoughts to consider in the days ahead.

Lawns: I just fertilized mine one last time for the year and as always I used an organic fertilizer because it lasts so long and won’t leach into the water table or run off into the storm drain.

I would also recommend applying some lime at the same time. Bonide Infuse is a good product to control red thread if the fertilizer doesn’t quite do the job.

And, by all means, keep the leaves raked off and don’t walk on the lawn when it is frozen.

Fruit trees, flowering trees and shrubs: As we move into November it is a good time to apply a dormant spray to control insects and diseases. Copper combined with horticultural oil is easy to use and is relatively nontoxic. Try to find a calm dry day that is above freezing for this application.

Vegetables: I planted some lettuces, broccoli and garlic in a couple of my beds but the rest of them I just covered with some lime and an inch of fresh compost. This will keep the weeds down and improve the soil by spring.

Berries: For raspberries and blackberries, it is most important to remove the canes that produced fruit this year (except for ever bearing varieties). The remaining canes can be shortened up a bit and secured to a wire/trellis system. Blueberries only need a light pruning to remove any dead wood and to shape them. Wait to mow strawberries down until February.

Roses: Remember to prune “Hip high in the fall, knee high in the spring.”

Climbing roses need to be secured to their trellis and the long canes shortened up just a little bit. After pruning and thoroughly cleaning around the base of the rose, apply some lime and then pile up some mulch about 10-12 inches high to protect the graft union from a really ugly winter. A couple of bucks of mulch is a small price to pay for insuring that your roses are going to survive the winter.

Perennials: If you don’t like slime then I would suggest that you cut back your hostas now before they freeze and turn to mush.

Perennials that are “woodier” can be cut half way back to the ground now and in spring as the new growth emerges from the base you can remove the rest of the old growth. I actually prefer to completely ignore my perennials until February and do my major clean up at that time. Just make sure all the ground is covered with either leaves or mulch or you will have a major weed problem.

Water: A couple of thoughts about water. Be sure to drain all your hoses out and cover the faucets with a freeze protection gizmo. Plants that are under the eaves will need extra water during the winter or they can die from desiccation.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and you can send your gardening questions to him at

“How To Put The Garden To Bed” is 10 a.m. Oct. 29. Free. For more information, go to

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