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Sharon / Wilton

Planting seeds for spring

In the garden: Readying growing beds for next season

  • Holly Macy of Sharon works on the planters and gardens at Gretchen Judd's house in Wilton on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013.
  • Holly Macy of Sharon works on the planters and gardens at Gretchen Judd's house in Wilton on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013.
  • Holly Macy of Sharon works on the planters and gardens at Gretchen Judd's house in Wilton on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013.
  • Holly Macy of Sharon works on the planters and gardens at Gretchen Judd's house in Wilton on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013.
  • Holly Macy of Sharon works on the planters and gardens at Gretchen Judd's house in Wilton on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013.

After all that hard work in the spring and summer months to get the garden in pristine shape, there is no need to have it all go to waste over the winter.

There are some quick and easy maintenance items one can do in the fall months to ensure a head start for next year’s garden.

Depending on the kind of plants in the garden, there are a few different things you can do, says Holly Macy of Sharon, owner of Boughs of Holly.

When dealing with perennials, the key is to let them go for as long as possible into the fall season. Once they have endured some of the cold nights and mornings and are looking a little brown, Macy suggests cutting them down to the ground, leaving just a small piece of the plant. The roots will have already absorbed all the plant’s energy and will be set for the spring, but adding a little compost to enrich the soil in the area is a smart idea as well.

“You’ll just see a little stubble,” said Macy.

For annuals, Macy said that taking cuttings from plants and placing them in mason jars over the winter will get you set up for the spring. There is an option to dig up the plant and pot it for inside display, but it can also allow bugs and/or diseases to make their way inside the home. Placing the cuttings in water allow for growth over the winter.

“You’ll have some ready to plant in the spring,” said Macy.

If dealing with summer bulbs, like dahlias, gladiolus or begonias, Macy recommends taking them out of the ground and storing them for the winter. Bulbs can be expensive and anything to make next year’s cost manageable is the way to go. To store the bulbs, remove as much of the dirt as possible and let them dry out for a couple weeks in sawdust or peat moss in a cool basement.

“Once you dry them out, pack them away and you can have them for spring,” said Macy.

As for the vegetable garden, Macy suggests taking everything out and cleaning up as much as you can. Adding compost in the fall is a good idea in preparation for the next season.

“Your soil will already be enriched and ready for spring,” said Macy.

The fall is a great time for weeding with the cool weather and not a lot of plants remaining in the garden to get in the way. Edging your garden prior to winter is also a good idea and so is pruning all bushes and trees. “If you do it in the fall, it will save you time in the spring,” noted Macy.

Leaves can act as a great addition to compost, except for oak leaves, and remember to remove all acorns.

While it may not seem like it, the fall is the best time for planting trees and shrubs. Most of them are on sale and will have no trouble making it through the winter. But Macy stresses to water them really well along with anything else that will remain outside through the winter.

“Anything you plant, make sure you water,” said Macy. “You want things really well-watered.”

And one helpful hint to keep colors in your yard during the colder autumn months is to change over your planters. Adding some fall plants to the mix, like kale, mums and cabbage, will really bring a new element to your home.

“It really extends the fall,” said Macy. “And they will take quite a few frosts.”

And don’t forget to check the weather, so that you can cover or bring in certain plants.

“It’s what I do before bed and the first thing I do when I wake up,” said Macy.

A garden can be a labor of love, but when it is done right the end result will be something to be proud of. And work now, will make the start to the next growing season a whole lot easier.

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