Gardening in Cooler Temperatures

— Written By Peg Godwin and last updated by
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The temperatures are dropping but there is still much to do in the garden. Here is a list of many tasks to put on your list.

  • Make plans to clean and repair your garden tools. Diseases and pests can be spread by pruners and shovels that have soil or plant residue.
  • Drain and store water hoses to extend their lives.
  • Take your rain gauge inside to avoid damage from freezing temperatures.
  • Empty and clean rain barrels. Scum and debris will clog up your faucets and make your water fowl. You may need a long handled mop or scrub brush if you do not want to crawl into the barrel.

Disconnect lines and hoses flushing with water. Clean your roof and gutters at least once a year to minimize debris in your stored rain water. Store your rain barrels upside-down to keep them clean when not in use.

  • Remove annuals and dried leaves and stems. Use the organic debris to make compost.
  • Check the moisture level of plants especially newly planted ones and those in containers. Most plants appreciate weekly watering to keep them growing.
  • Sow seeds of calliopsis, foxglove, johnny‑jump‑ups, larkspur, money plant, and stock.
  • Collect and save the seeds from your favorite annual flowers. Store them in a cool, dry place; glass jars are ideal. Remember that saved seeds do not always look and grow exactly like their parents.
  • Plant spring‑flowering bulbs such as anemones, crocus, daffodils, and snowdrops in sunny locations. Planting in clumps will give more impact in the landscape. Use colored golf tees to mark the location of the new plantings.
  • Fertilize new and established bulbs with a slow‑release nitrogen fertilizer. Withhold fertilizer from other plants until spring growth signals the need.
  • Purchase amaryllis bulbs and pot them up for winter blooming. Remember bulbs prefer to be pot bound so choose a pot that is no more than two inches wider than the diameter of the bulb.
  • Limit pruning to the removal of dead, diseased, or damaged branches. Wait until late winter to prune summer‑flowering shrubs.
  • Remove and destroy bagworms from evergreens. As many as 1000 eggs can be overwintering in a single bag. Do the math and think about how many more bagworms you would have next spring.
  • Fall is the best time of the year to plant a tree. Carefully select, plant, and mulch dormant trees
  • Rake up and removed leaves from your lawn. If winter annual weeds have been a problem in the past apply a pre‑emergent herbicide to control the germinating seeds. Read labels carefully as many products can damage centipede lawns.
  • Dig up and divide perennials such as daisies, irises, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, hosta, purple coneflower, yarrow, red-hot poker and daylilies. Use a garden fork. Gently pull apart lifted plants with your hands. Set divisions back at the original growing depth, firm soil around plant roots and water.
  • Transplant trees and shrubs making sure to keep them watered through the first two summers.