Fall ideal time for working on garden

Monday, October 18, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:04 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The air is cooling, the nights are getting colder and the plants in the garden are starting to look brown and unattractive.

In other words, it’s time to start winterizing the garden.

There is no right or wrong way to prepare the garden for winter. Homeowners can just leave everything as it is and wait until spring or do some of the following.

“Fall is a good time to review and check what went well,” said Kathy Kennedy a salesperson at Total Environments Garden Center Inc.

She suggests homeowners look at what they liked and what they disliked and record it so in the spring they will be able to remember what they want to plant.

If homeowners have done landscaping, they should make sure the landscaping works in fall and the yard is how is should look.

Bulbs do not need to be planted in the fall, but many people do so because it is the easiest time of year to handle the bulbs. If you want flowers in the home during the winter, bulbs can be forced to bloom.

This is usually done by placing the bulbs in a cold environment for a period of time and then bringing them out into a warm environment.

“Fall tilling is great; add extra organic material into the soil,” Kennedy said.

The organic material can come from the garden cleaning, using leaves from trees and plants.

Mary Kroening, state master gardener coordinator, suggests not doing heavy garden cleaning. She said the dead leaves and matter on the plants leaves a layer of protection to the plant from the winter weather.

“Fall is the best time in Missouri to plant trees and shrubs,” Kroening said.

Fall is ideal because the soil is still warm from summer while the air cools to fall temperatures. Therefore, the plant can focus its energy toward growing roots. This allows the newly planted plant to get a good root system that will allow it to survive the hot weather better.

Helmi Sheely, host of Superior Gardening radio show on 93.9 from 11 a.m.-noon on Sundays, said, “Winter is a great time to think about spring projects.”

She said much of the development and planning of projects can be done before spring comes and plants are ready to be planted.

Fall is also a good time to fix bald patches in the yard, especially after the first frost when the crab grass has died. Sheely said homeowners should fertilize their yards at this time.

Kroening also said homeowners should seed the yard to take the place of the dead crab grass.

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