Garden Cleanup Time: Do It Now!

Garden Cleanup Time: Do It Now!

Warm fall weather encourages many of us to delay putting our gardens to bed, but late September and all of October are the best times to do it.

Some tomato lovers leave their plants in the ground in hopes that their green tomatoes will ripen. It's time to give it up. The same is true for peppers and cucumbers and other garden favorites.

Pull the spent vegetables and annuals and put them in the compost. Take good-sized green tomatoes off the branches. Put them in brown paper bags or a box. Check regularly for mold or rot. Over days or weeks, they will ripen.

You can leave healthy perennials standing. They can trap insulating snow and provide a bit of winter interest. But if any plants show signs of disease, pull them now.

Water everything. Trees, shrubs and perennials could use a good soak. The same is true of grass if you're allowed to water it right now in your community. Most plants survive winter better if they go into the season with well-watered roots. Water them again in October or November.

Empty your containers. Ceramic, terra cotta, concrete and clay containers can shatter if left outside during the winter. Clean them and stack them in the garage.

You'll breathe a sigh of relief in spring if you clean up your yard tools now. Wash dirt off the hoe, shovel, cultivator and the tiller blades. Put a film of oil on them to prevent rust.

Spread fertilizer on your grass in September or October.

Rake your lawn as needed. If you have a thin layer of leaves, simply chop them up with your lawn mower. But if you have lots of leaves, rake, bag and save the leaves to use as mulch once the soil freezes. Tip, you can use a blue tarp to rake your leaves on for easy pickup.

If left on the grass, a thick layer of leaves can cause snow mold, which can damage grass. So keep up with your raking, experts advise.

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