Landscape Logic: The garden: Wrap it up, tuck it in
Vail, CO Colorado
Before calling this season quits, we need to finish the harvest, clean up the garden and do what it takes to get it properly tucked in for winter.
The weekend ahead may be our best chance to get outside and enjoy working in the yard one last time. Here’s a checklist of end-of-season chores in the garden.
• Spinach, lettuce and peas can be left in place, as they will continue to grow if protected by a tent-like greenhouse or a cold frame. If unprotected, harvest soon.
• You can leave carrots, parsnips and turnips in the ground for winter harvesting.
• Tomatoes and peppers need to be harvested. Bring them inside to ripen. Putting them in a bag with an apple will speed up the process.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
• Cut squashes, melons and pumpkins off the vines, being careful to leave as much stem on them as you can. Avoid picking them up and carrying them by the stem, as that can break the stem and hasten decline of the vegetable. Bring the produce indoors where the warmth will hasten ripening and, in the case of green pumpkins, help them turn orange.
• Annuals: you may have used a lot of annuals as companion plants for the veggies and herbs. Even if annuals such as marigolds, petunias and nasturtium haven’t been damaged by frost, they are not great options to bring indoors. Let them go, and replace them next year.
• If you do want fall outdoor color, plant cool-season plants – pansies, violas and kale.
• Herbs can be placed in pots and brought indoors. Sage, basil, parsley, stevia and tea all can be placed in pots and brought inside to use over the winter. Leave hardy herbs, such as chives, mint and oregano, in the ground, as they should come back next year.
• Leave some plants that provide winter food for birds and other wildlife – such as sunflowers, echinacea and ornamental grasses.
• Pick up all dead fruit and veggies from the ground.
• Know which plants are best to pitch in the compost pile and which ones are not.
• Do compost leaves, grass clippings, straw, nondiseased plant debris and weeds, if they have not gone to seed.
• Avoid composting any plants which are diseased and large pumpkin and squash vines because they take too long to decompose. Because tomato plants often carry diseases, some gardeners avoid composting them altogether.
• Finally, add mulch over the garden to maintain soil quality. Add straw, a fresh layer of compost or grass clippings from the final lawn mowing.
With the blanket of mulch, your garden is tucked in for its long winter’s nap. Say “goodnight,” and look forward to spring!
Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970- 409-8945.