Putting a Perennial Garden to Bed
By Your Name
A certain sense of peace descends when a perennial garden is put to bed for the season. The plants are safely tucked in against the elements, and the garden is ready to welcome the first signs of life. When the work is done, you can sit back and anticipate the bright blooms of spring. Many gardeners are uncertain about how to close a perennial garden. This week’s column demystifies the process. Clean up
Garden clean up can be a gradual process—plants will deteriorate at different rates, allowing you to do a little bit each week. * Edge beds and borders and remove stakes, trellises, and other plant supports. * Dig and divide irises, daylilies, and other early bloomers. * Cut back plants when foliage starts to deteriorate, then rake all debris out of the garden and pull any weeds that remain. Plant perennials
Fall is the perfect time to plant perennials. The warm, sunny days and cool nights provide optimal conditions for new root growth, without the stress of summer heat. * Dig deeply and enhance soil with organic matter.
* Use a good starter fertilizer to speed up new root growth and establish a healthy base. * Untangle the roots of new plants before planting.
* Water deeply after planting as the weather dictates, and keep plants moist for several days after planting. Add compost
Organic matter is the key ingredient to healthy garden soil. Composting adds nutrients to the soil, helps the soil retain water and nutrients, and keeps the soil well aerated. If you take care of the soil, your plants will become strong and disease resistant. Before adding compost, use an iron rake to loosen the top few inches of soil. Spread a one to two inch layer of compost over the entire garden—the best compost is made up of yard waste and kitchen scraps—and then refrain from stepping on the area and compacting the soil. Winter...
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