Monadnock Region gardeners already thinking about spring

From planting bulbs to dividing perennials, there’s fall work to be done in the gardens

  • Doug Proops (front) and Trim Hahn work on the garden beds at Depot Park as part of a volunteer group that tends to the town's gardens once a week. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Volunteer Judy Graeff does some pruning on the flower gardens near the gazebo in Depot Park in Peterborough. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • There's a lot of work to be done if your garden looks like this these days. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, September 27, 2018 10:44AM

It’s finally starting to feel like fall outside, which means the abrupt end of another growing season is fast approaching.

There’s likely still some beautiful flowers in your garden beds, but soon it will be time to focus on the maintenance and cleanup of the garden areas around the house and begin the arduous task of getting ready for next spring.

The fall is where the real work happens so the early spring season can be successful – and less stressful. Beginning anytime now, there’s a laundry list of chores that can be done before the real cold weather gets here to freeze the ground and bring any remaining work to a screeching halt.

“The more you can do now, the better,” said Trim Hahn, member and former president of the Peterborough Garden Club. “Because there’s a lot to do.”

By now, the experiments from this past season have been either deemed a success or failure, giving a better idea of what should stick around for next year. If there’s a running list of potential species you’d like to try in the upcoming year, start thinking about when they need to be planted and where they might best fit in. It’s never too early to start planning for next year, especially when it comes to spring bulbs that really need to go into the ground starting next week.

Bulbs, like daffodils and lilies, are readily available this time of year, so pick out what you’d like to add and start identifying spots. Spring bulbs really need to have time to get acclimated before winter, which is why that early October timeline is a good one to follow.

“You want time for the roots to get into the soil before the ground freezes,” Hahn said. “And they really need six weeks of cold.”

Once the first frost rolls around, that’s the time to pull any dead annuals, which is always a good idea because they can create disease and affect other plantings. Plus, since they won’t come back, there’s no reason to leave them in the ground. Dividing perennials can really be done starting now, and is a great way to get going on the layout of things for next year.

Just like spring bulbs are featured in catalogs and garden centers these days, trees and bushes are usually on sale this time of year because the goal for garden businesses is to have new stock in the spring and not have to take care of this year’s over the winter.

“It’s really a good time to plant things for the long term,” Hahn said.

Before getting too crazy with bulb planting, it’s a great opportunity to add compost, clean away any debris, and weed and edge the garden beds. Adding compost this time of year allows for it to work into the soil and get primed for spring.

No need to spend money on compost either. Instead of getting rid of all those leaves this year, put them in a pile for the winter and allow them to break down. The result will be some great compost to spread around the gardens in the future.

“When they turn to compost, they are super nutritious,” Hahn said. “They make fantastic soil.”

Fall is also a great time to seed, lime and aerate the lawn – because there just won’t be time in the spring.

If planning is your thing, start a journal to document all the hard work this fall and keep it going with notes throughout next year’s growing season. And when winter does come around, grab a few magazines and start planning for whatever else is needed for when the ground thaws and spring planting season commences.

“It’s also good to check out the town gardens because then you can see what people are doing,” Hahn said.

But until then, it’s a good idea to stay focused on all the works that needs to be done.