Final garden chores

Well, our beautiful fall weather has come to an end here in Ottawa, so I am closing out my GARDENS4U season with some final garden chores:

  • cut back any perennials that get mushy or moldy (hostas, peonies, tall phlox)  Leave the rest for the birds, rabbits, squirrels etc.
  • mound clean soil (just plain, new soil,  no fertilizer) around the crowns of roses and any other less hardy plants.
  • mulch leaves and spread them around the plants in my gardens.  I will probably have to borrow some leaves from my neighbours or clients to do this as the trees in my yard are predominantly evergreens.
  • take any frost tender potted plants indoors (there are a few I overwinter)
  • put containers that are not cold hardy into the garage (those without drainage holes are especially susceptible to cracking) Store them on a shelf or other spot off the floor.
  • remove any cold sensitive decorations from the garden and store them (not on the floor) in the garage
  • pick any blooms still thriving; the frosty nights will kill them fast

 

 

 

That will probably end my garden posts for a while, I will have to look elsewhere for inspiration…

 

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s garden is NOT a commandment…

In fact your neighbour would probably be tickled pink if you admired their garden and asked them for advice.  Better yet, use other people’s gardens as your inspiration for your own dream garden…

Fall is the perfect time to plan and start or restore a garden.  If you do not yet have a garden or would like to modify the one you have, follow this back-ache free method.  I have not yet tried this method, but it appears reasonably easy and scientifically sound.  I would be willing to help anyone wishing to give it a try…

First, decide the shape you want: do you like straight edges or do you prefer rounded, curved edges?  An easy way to visualize the shape is to lay a garden hose on the grass where you want your garden to be, adjusting the hose around the perimeter until you arrive with a shape you like.  A general rule of thumb is to have the garden’s width a minimum of one third its length.  In other words, a foot wide garden around the perimeter of your yard will not be as visually appealing as a wider one.  Remember though, it is your garden, use your artistic genius and go with the shape YOU like!

When the shape has been determined, cut the grass short within the designated area.  You are going to be smothering this grass, so short is best.  Next, lay non-glossy newspaper over the area, wetting each layer, until you have a 3 cm thick soggy mess!  Sprinkle the newspaper layer with a dusting of blood meal for nitrogen.  Then add a 4 cm layer of garden soil that has compost added. (not potting soil or top soil)  Your final layer should be 6 cm of organic, hardwood mulch to hold the other layers in place and to keep weeds from germinating.  It must be organic to decompose and enrich the soil.   Continue to water well between layers and after the mulch for the next few months; do not let your creation dry out!

In the spring, when the soil has warmed up, your garden will be ready to plant.  You do not have to disturb your layers, simply dig out a “plug” of mulch a bit bigger than the size of your plant, add the plant, and replace the mulch.  Remember, to prevent your plants from rotting,  keep the mulch away from the crown of perennials as well as the stems or trunks of shrubs and trees…

Lorieb is a freelance writer and an avid gardener residing in Kanata, Ontario, Canada.  Please check out her website at www.gardens4u.ca

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