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Fall Preparation For Next Year's Garden

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At some point in September, we’re going to have a frost or freeze. That marks the end of most annual flowers and the vegetable garden. As we move into the fall, the days won’t be too hot and the nights will be cool. It’s time to clean up the frozen plants and prepare for winter and next spring’s growing season.

After the first killing frost, dig up the vegetable garden. Doing it in the fall allows you to supplement more nutrients to the soil. Add compost to the garden bed so it has time to breakdown during the winter.   

While the vegetables are on their way out, fall is a great time of year to plant and transplant most perennials. The soil is still warm to promote root development and the mild weather is less shocking to new transplants.

Divide perennials that have gotten too big to promote new growth. New shrubs can also be added this time of year to landscape beds. Plant clusters of spring flowering bulbs for an early blooming show next season.

Flowers on roses can generally be left alone. The petals will fall and a fruit will form.  Many of the hardy shrub roses have colorful hips or fruit. The hips add fall and winter interest. 

Exceptions like Hybrid tea, grandiflora and grafted roses do need winter protection. Once the ground has frozen in a couple months, cover the graft union with six inches of compost or mulch. You can still leave the hips at the top of those roses.

Get on the schedule to have your sprinkler system winterized. The outside parts of the system need to be drained while the other parts need the water blown out of them.

Following these simple procedures this fall rather than waiting until spring will ensure a smooth transition for next year’s growing season.    

Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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