Fall is in full swing, which means that many of us will soon stop going to our barns. And in the garden, work seems to be drawing to a close.
There’s not much to do in the garden at the end of the season – the crops are harvested and the weather is bad. However, the health, fertility, and even the longevity of the fall garden depends in large part on how well the garden is prepared for winter in the fall.
What we do in the nursery in the fall will bear fruit at the beginning of next spring. Therefore, it is necessary to try to follow the rules through all the work and finish the season so that next year there will be not only less worry but more joy because competent care of the land, trees, and berries will bring joy and profit.
Let us consider what mistakes we may make in preparing our gardens and vegetable gardens for winter. What we can leave out, and do not need to remember.
Fertilize with nitrogen fertilizer
Every plant needs to be nourished. However, if we apply a compound fertilizer in the spring and early summer, by September, or rather from August onwards, we must exclude nitrogen from plant nutrition.
Excess nitrogen promotes the growth of trees and shrubs, with the result that the wood does not mature properly and does not cope well with future frosts.
And it doesn’t make sense to fertilize your garden or vegetable garden every fall. The main annual fertilization is carried out only in the garden under the strawberry and currant bushes, and in one season – under the current planting, once in four to six years – under the trees and nurseries.
Remaining fruits in the garden and flower beds
Often, when leaving the beds for the winter, gardeners throw rotten and unripe fruit on them. And it is futile.
The decay left on the ground, as well as the uncollected plant debris, weeds, and mummified fruit on branches, are nothing more than hibernation sites for diseases and pests.
For this reason, beds should be cleaned and tilled, and if the time has come, a basic fertilizer should be applied. The garden should be checked for any dried fruit left on the branches, removed, and destroyed.
Also, look carefully at shrubs and trees for nests of pests – they are easily removed after the leaves have fallen.
The neglected compost heap
Today, composting is no longer a rare phenomenon. Many people understand its benefits and the need for it. However, not everyone knows that compost will only work for gardeners if it is made correctly.
In addition, it must be properly organized and properly formed, it must have constant care and not everything should be thrown in.
Do not put cabbages, plants destroyed by dangerous diseases, bad weeds, weeds with mature seeds, synthetic materials, vacuum cleaner waste, grease, pet waste, and meat waste on the compost pile.
And in winter, to keep the decomposition process during the cold period, it is kept in a thick layer of soil – about 12inch (30 cm), fallen leaves, peat, sawdust (the choice depends on the availability of materials and the volume of the pile). For winter and new waste form a new pit or container, depending on the preference in construction.
Uncollected leaves under the tree
Gardeners and horticulturists do not always remove the leaves from under the trees. Many defend themselves with the fact that it makes excellent fertilizer, but they don’t realize that they are actually leaving “winter homes” for garden pests.
The overwintering stages of fungal disease pathogens (rust, spotted disease, scab) and insect pests (turquoise, gall blight, plant-feeding mites, leaf beetles) survive on the leaf litter.
Yes, leaves actually make both good fertilizer and free mulch, but only if they are healthy. If the plant has been affected by the disease, it is worth removing the leaves from the garden, especially if they are nursery plants or young seedlings, to destroy or treat with a 7% solution of urea and then add to the compost pile or use for mulching.
Neglecting green manure
Usually, by late August you can already see completely empty seedbeds with weeds slowly sprouting on them. But this is not true!
If the land is empty and there is at least a little time for plants to grow, the bed should be used for sowing short-day crops (dill, radish, lettuce) or better yet, for sowing green manure.
Cider crops not only enrich the soil by decomposing cuttings but also pull up the useful elements in their upper layers, repel pest larvae living underground, improve air exchange and replace weedy vegetation.
In addition, rye, vetch, oats, and ramps sowed in winter will protect inter-row gardens and seedbeds from soil washout, weathering, and better snow retention.
Forgetting to plant seeds in winter
After the busy season, you want to leave everything for spring. However, you can also plant some crops in the fall. This will ease the spring planting period somewhat and bring the first harvest of next year later in the year. Such activity may not seem very important now, but it will be useful in due time.
Sow salads, dill, beets, carrots, parsnips under winter – they will come up earlier, and some will even vacate the bed earlier for reseeding. Divide (for propagation purposes) perennial crops: rhubarb, sumac. Plant onion seedlings and winter garlic two weeks before frost.
Not sowing seeds in time
There is a lot of information on the Internet about growing fruit trees, but most articles are true only for the middle ground. Just because the authors often do not specify for whom the material is written, novice gardeners assume that these rules are universal for everyone.
However, in fact, for those of us who live in the middle belt and in the north, it is recommended to plant trees in the fall from mid-September, but in the south – in October.
For warmer regions it is better to plant in autumn than in spring, where winters are warm and autumn is long – seedlings have time to get well rooted in spring, but in spring the weather is often bad and suddenly becomes hot after a cold, which complicates the care of young trees and shrubs.
There is a general rule: garden crop varieties that are not winter hardy are not recommended for planting in winter, but preferably in spring. But pits for spring planting should be prepared from autumn onwards. This greatly saves time later and simplifies the work in spring.
Your pruning shears have been on the back burner for long in fall. It seems unnecessary to use, but it isn’t. You still need use it in the season of fall.
It often happens that shrubs and young trees don’t have time to mature in the cold and sometimes weather conditions provoke the second wave of growth. That’s where fall pruning can help.
To help young seedlings prepare for winter, the tips of shoots should be pruned (pinched off) by 4-6inch (10-15 cm) in early autumn. This will stop their growth and stimulate bark capping and wood maturation.
And hygienic pruning in autumn is very useful. It is still good to see the dry branches and remember where the unproductive bushes that fall in the shade are.
In addition, in October it is necessary to carry out shaping work on shaded grapes, currants, and currants. It is also necessary to carefully observe the trees (peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, cherries) for gum. If bruises are found, they should be cleaned to living tissue and the wounds treated with garden varnish.
Do not need to whitewash in the fall?
Fall whitewashing is a controversial issue! Some say there is no need to waste time on it. Others argue that it is necessary to paint the trunk white specifically in the spring. However, from an agronomic point of view, autumn whitewashing is an important factor in disease prevention and protection against pests.
In addition, it protects the trunk from winter and spring burns. The temperature difference between winter and spring in bright sunlight causes tension on the surface of the bark, causing it to burst. However, if the tree cavity is painted, the white color of the paint will reflect the sunlight, thus reducing this critical moment.
Therefore, whitewashing is done in late autumn, when the pests have settled in the bark crevices for the winter. In spring, in warm areas – during the May holidays, in cold areas – at the beginning of summer, whitewashing is only decorative, as most pathogens have awakened, insects are active, and dangerous temperature changes have passed.
However, you should not paint young seedlings white – because their bark painting component is still too aggressive.
Autumn is the end of the watering
In autumn, when it rains more and more frequently, there is a temptation to forget about watering. But for some crops, the growing season isn’t over, and on some days it’s not just warm, but as hot as summer. Soils dry out and plants lack moisture.
For this reason, you shouldn’t forget to water if things are still growing, because lack of water doesn’t allow the roots to fully absorb nutrients, which means lack of yield.
Very important irrigation is also waiting for the garden. This watering is called “moisture watering”.
Carried out at the end of leaf fall he is quite a large rate (under the trees about 10-15 buckets per square meter, under the bushes , if the soil is light, you can and less) to improve the winter hardiness of plants, as well as to ensure that their root systems in the rest of the fall fully grow and slow frost penetration of the soil. The only exception is in areas where there is close to groundwater.
Harvesting at the wrong time
You’ll wonder how you can harvest at a bad time in the fall. As it turns out, you can! And the biggest confusion occurs with root crops. Many people leave their beets in the bed while their carrots are eagerly removed.
If you do this, then beets collected after frost lose flavor and storability, while carrots are harvested early and can lose up to 40% of their weight.
This is why you should harvest beets before the first frost when the temperature drops to 39-41°F (4-5°C), and carrots after the frost.
You shouldn’t throw tomatoes in the bed that hasn’t had time to ripen yet. They will simply rot there.
But if you take them down when the temperature drops to 46°F (8°C) and put them in a cool place 68-77°F (20-25°C), they will ripen and be ready for the table.
If you don’t have ripe baby cherry tomatoes in the garden, pick them off with the shrubs and place them in a ventilated area so they ripen with the roots facing up.
To dig and not to dig
By digging your garden in the winter, you are working to control insect pests and weed seeds. However, deep digging is not a good thing in all cases, as it interferes not only with the life of harmful microorganisms but also with the useful microbiota – the inter-rhizosphere (the layer of soil where most of the roots are located).
If it is not necessary (the soil has no heavy clay content), it is enough to loosen the top layer of the bed. On the other hand, if the clods are not broken up to level the soil surface. They are left untouched. This way, the soil will freeze better and the digging will be more useful.
Do not dig up the tree stand, only loosen it before the frost. Digging damages the roots and it takes at least two weeks for the roots to regenerate; if the cold comes early, it will be harder for the plants to survive the winter.
Because loosening delays soil freezing slightly, this agricultural principle also applies to young seedlings, trees with short rootstocks, and cluster plantings.
Early sheltering of winter-intolerant crops
In October in risky agricultural areas, it’s time to cover crops that are not resistant to freezing. But fall is here, and if you rush it, the mulch may do the wrong thing – the plants will hibernate.
Therefore, it is worth bending the shoots to the ground, nail them, and then, waiting for the first frost, cover grapes, in some places – apples, peaches, figs, raspberries, and other cultures that are not typical or risky in this region.
However, strawberries of late and counter-seasonal varieties in the garden can be covered in advance with spunbond cloth, which slightly extends the final harvest period.
For the mulching of seedlings, strawberry beds, and bedding circles for perennials, the time comes when the soil is frozen to a depth of 2-3inch (5-8 cm). Peat, healthy fallen leaves are all suitable for this type of mulching.
The neglected garden tool
For the inexperienced gardener, garden tools – it’s just a tool: just put everything in the shed in the fall and be done with it! But shovels, hoes, garden shears, and pruning shears all need care. Otherwise, they will quickly become a problem.
Pruning shears not only need to be sharpened regularly and properly but they must also be disinfected regularly, even before they are “rested”. Shovels, hoes, and rakes should be thoroughly cleaned of clogged soil, disinfected, and brushed with machine oil. Don’t leave garden buckets unattended.
These should be emptied and hoses and buckets should be hidden in sheds. In the case of irrigation systems, valves must be removed, blown dry, and disconnected from the pipes in a timely manner.
Failure to protect the fall garden from rodents
Do not think that the winter garden has a life of its own and does not need our intervention. No! During sleep, it needs our protection as much as during the months of active vegetation.
And the dangers of this period are as unpredictable and threatening as the diseases and pests of summer. Rabbits, voles, and mice can cause irreparable damage to your garden, so you should consider their visits in advance.
To keep rabbits away, you can put fine netting around tree trunks, wrap special plastic tubes around tree trunks, or wrap needles from spruce tree branches.
If you see vole tracks in your garden (usually holes, root debris piles, and trampled paths), scatter walnut leaves, garlic cloves, elderberries, or earthen wattle branches around the seedlings. Close the vault’s vents with a fine mesh.
These are the main 15 winter preparation mistakes that must be avoided. After all, if you do everything right, the upcoming spring will be more welcome and there will be fewer springtime worries. And you’ll have fewer sighs of relief in the summer, too.
I wish you all have a good harvest in the coming year.