Winterizing your Home & Garden
Now that the garden season has wound down, and the harvest is essentially over, it’s time to look at clean up, winterizing garden tools/equipment and preparing your beds for next year.
Collecting all the garden tools you have around and checking them for rust and breakage is a good place to start. I am always so excited when I find that favourite tool lying underneath a nearby plant, just patiently waiting for me to find and clean it up (this happens more often than I would like to admit!). I often have most of my small tools and kneelers in a large bucket to carry around. Hose off with water and then clean up with Clorox disinfectant or a bleach solution to keep the transmission of spores and diseases from one year to the next to a minimum. With larger shovels, hoes etc., clean and sand the blades for rust and dirt, then put the blade end in a large bucket filled with sand and some 30 weight motor oil to coat the metal. This will help protect tools from rust over the winter. Sand and treat the handles with linseed oil. Disconnect hoses and drain the water, put hose bibs on spigots and make sure faucets aren’t dripping, are also some things to look at. Add fuel stabilizer to gas powered garden equipment is also very important.
Put away birdbaths and other breakable glass type garden art that could be damaged by freezing temperatures, wind and falling branches. Most birdbaths come apart easily and can be stored for the winter indoors or undercover. Remove saucers from the bottom of your pots and replace them with feet or stands that can lift them off the ground, as the water that catches in the saucers will not evaporate and will freeze in winter, potentially harming the plant. This is also a great time to redo your outdoor containers by adding winter plants and bulbs for colour…always so much fun to see those bulbs pop up in spring!
Be sure to clean out your existing bird feeders for the coming months, make sure they are free of mold or spoiled seed. Stock up on suet and bird food.
I also encourage people to leave the heads on as many of their plants that produce edible seeds for birds as well. Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Liatris, just to name a few. Echinacea benefits from leaving the stalks on right into the spring as the cut stalks act as a straw and draw the water into the roots and can rot them out. My stands have done much better since I stopped cutting them back…and as an added bonus I often see the stands shaking in December and January as the smaller birds feast on the seeds.
And how about those garden beds? Do they need to be beefed up at all?? Compost? Leaf mulch? Steer grow? Depending on what you think your beds needs, there are lots of options. One of the simplest things to do is to weed your beds and put leaf mulch on top of the cleaned beds. Be sure to use leaves that are easily compostable (maple leaves are excellent) and disease free, if you can shred them with your lawn mower, even better. The protection this will give to your beds from weeds is a good bonus and also the worms will LOVE it. Be sure to add some compost to your beds in January or February so it is has time to break down and be ready for planting in March/April.
And don’t forget to plant some bulbs for some spring/summer colour while you are cleaning up your beds, it’s a great time to see those empty spots in your garden and fill in with some spring colour for years to come.
Finally, make some tea grab a muffin and your favourite garden magazine and start dreaming about next season! It will be here sooner than we think!