• Greg Graves

Putting the Garden to Bed – Part 2

Tender plants put into the greenhouse

The fern greenhouse

Well I certainly hope you got the first 6 items done from last weeks list.

Item 7 is to protect tender plants. Many people take their house plants or tender plants out for the summer, but now is the time to take them back indoors. Make sure you clean them first with a nice spray of water. If problems are evident you might want to spray with an insecticidal soap. Watch to see if any problems develop. You may also want to add a light layer of sand to the pot to reduce the small fungus gnats.

8. Divide perennials. - Lift and divide spring and summer blooming perennials, such as dallies, poppies, peonies and daisies to name a few. Fall blooming perennials can be divided after they finish blooming or in the spring. Most perennials benefit from being divided about every two or three years.

This is also a good time to buy perennials at the nurseries because they may be on sale to clear them out. If they are planted now, the root system will be even more developed by spring and you will have a much larger plant.

9. Move plants. This is a good time to evaluate plants that may not have been doing as well as expected. Remember the right plant in the right place will be much healthier.

10. WEEDING. I know this isn’t one of the most favorite gardening jobs, but by doing a thorough weeding in the fall, you can avoid more extensive weeding in the spring. I’m always looking for ways to make life easier and this really does reduce the amount of work in the spring.

shredded leaves to be used as mulch

11. Rake and clean up. Leaves are easier to pick up when they are dry, so periodic cleanups are better than waiting until all the leaves have fallen and become mushy. You can either compost them or shred them and use them as mulch. When you cut back your perennials you can cut them into small pieces and they will compost more quickly. Avoid adding material to the compost that you know is diseased, you will only help to spread it to the rest of your garden.

fertilizing the lawn

12. Lawn. It’s a little late to sow seed now but you can still fertilize. Fertilizing in fall is the best time because the soil is still relatively warm and you can build a better root system than in the spring. I would recommend an organic commercial winterizer. At the public garden where I worked, we would thatch one year, aerate the next and the third year let it rest. At home I don’t care for the perfect lawn, in fact I encourage the moss because it is easier and that is what likes to grow in this wet area. I do use a little fertilizer in the open sunny areas. (if I remember). I need to do this soon too.

Composted beds

13. Mulch. The final step in putting the garden to bed is to mulch. You can do this anytime during the fall or winter. At home I use my own compost. I shred all my leaves and use them directly on the bed. I have enough to cover about half the garden. On the other half I use the 2 year old compost from the animals and yard waste. I switch the sections of the garden each year so the whole garden gets both every other year. Composting as I clean up also helps to protect the plants from the winter cold. It acts as a layer of insulation. At the public garden where I worked we would finish the clean up and then had to buy in compost so would do it all at once in February. We bought a two-way mix, half composted steer manure and half composted bark.


14. Last but not least, find a good book and go indoors. I would highly recommend Marty Wingate’s ‘Potting Shed Mysteries’ or her book ‘The Bodies in the Library’. They are set in English gardens. A very fun read. Nothing like a horticultural murder mystery. There are many new garden publications so just grab a few.

It’s cold out. It is also important to recharge your own batteries for the next gardening season.

The birds working the compost

taking a break while composting

#weeding #mulch #composting #movingplants #dividingperennials #lawn #OldGoatFarm #gardencleanup

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