It’s late autumn which means it’s time to set the garden aside until spring, right? Wrong. Just because the temps are cooler, gardens still need looking after. In fact, winter gardening can be fun and easy with the following tips and suggestions.
And if you live in Southern California or a place that is considered a sub-tropical environment meaning a mild climate zone with a coastal influence, gardening year-round is possible and enjoyable.
For example, unlike our friends back East, Southern Californians can plant bulbs through late November depending on the variety. Late autumn is a good time to get things planted in the ground because plants can develop good roots during this time of year. How do you plant a bulb?
Here’s what you need to begin:
- Crocus or Snowdrop bulbs
- Half-moon edger
- Bone meal
- Hand fork
Start by using a half moon edger to make an H shaped cut in your lawn. Undercut the sod and peel it back. Sprinkle a little bone meal over the area to be planted and mix it in to a depth of three inches using a hand fork. Place the bulbs in a random fashion with the growing points facing upward. Score the underside of the turf with a hand fork. This will make it easier for the bulb to penetrate the sod when it germinates. Replace the sod and firm it down, especially around the seams. It’s important that you do not dislodge bulbs while you are replacing the sod.
How about roses? Is it too late in the year to start reaping the rewards of these beautiful creatures? Not at all, according to experts, roses can be planted 12 months out of the year in California and similar climes because of our mild climate. In December, try bare root roses in containers that are perfect for planting since they offer a nice variety when they bloom. Available at local garden shops.
Choosing a quality rose is of paramount importance if you go this route. The better the rose you start with, the more vigorous and successful it will be. If you are unable to plant the rose immediately, it’s best to until you are ready to plant.
Start by soaking the rose in a bucket of water overnight. This will re-hydrate any water deficits that have developed and assist the rose in getting off to a good start.
Planting winter veggies is another great gardening method that you can do these next few months; it’s a perfect time to plant things like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
Experts suggest adding layers of mulch in the garden, as well as applying a fertilizer to plants and lawn. Spreading mulch on the soil in your garden is one of the nicest things you can do for your plants, and it looks great, too. Mulch is a layer of material put on top of bare soil to moderate soil temperatures, retain moisture, and suppress weeds. While you can use just about anything from gravel to old carpeting, the best mulches are organic.
Another thing a gardener can do is prune deciduous plants since this time of year is great for cutting back, and shaping, experts report.
Winterizing Garden Tools and Equipment
Wouldn’t it be great to find all your garden tools in good working order in the spring? As well as saving time and aggravation, preventative maintenance can extend the life of your gardening gear. Here’s some tips to help keep everything in great working order:
- Drain all water from hoses. Store them kink-free in a dry place on a hose reel or loosely coiled rather than hanging on a hook or nail.
- Remove soil from hand tools. Sharpen spades, hoes, pruners, loppers and pruning saws. Tighten loose screws or nuts; lubricate moving parts and springs. Repair any broken handles.
- To prevent rust, spray exposed metal parts and cutting edges with penetrating oil such as WD-40. Wipe wooden handles with linseed oil to help prevent cracking and drying.
- Thoroughly wash and rinse sprayers used for insect, disease or weed control, following manufacturer’s directions. Apply oil to moving parts as required. To drain and keep clean, store or hang the sprayer upside down.
- Clean up your garden cart or wheelbarrow and wash fertilizer spreader out. Grease wheels to prevent squeaking.
- Power equipment-lawn mowers, tillers and chippers-should be cleaned of grease, dirt and plant material. Tighten loose nuts, screws and sharpen cutting edges.
- If do-it-yourself maintenance isn’t for you, take your mower in for maintenance now; it’s a slow time at the repair shops, so you’ll beat the lines next season.Just think of how great your garden will look when springtime rolls around!