Getting the yard and the house set up with Christmas lights is a great time to think about winterizing the garden. You can put a string of Christmas lights around sensitive plants like the aloes and citrus. When there is a frost warning I take a cotton sheet (with a Hawaiian print) and cover the plants. The little bit of heat from the lights and the cotton cover creates a nice, cozy environment for the tender ones. Sometimes I have my Christmas lights up through January because it is a long cold winter but I can live with that. No plastic covering on plants. Plastic conducts cold.
I re-potted my black bamboo and other plants that go dormant. This is what my potted bamboo looked like. Yikes.
I had to take a hammer to the roots to separate them. It was nasty. I should have done this 3 years ago. But I got about 25 new black bamboo plants. They are sitting in dirt in a plastic bag for the time being. I need more pots and dirt. Repotting is good to do also before a nice rain to give the roots a reassuring boost and encourage them to set up housekeeping in their new home. I gave them all a hot toddy (a drink of worm tea) in case they were experiencing post uprooting shock. This was not a fertilizing treatment. It is never good to fertilizer in the winter. It encourages growth and they are putting out shoots in the dead of winter. Ouch. So, no fertilizing just yet. If you are having a dry fall and winter make sure and check your watering schedule. If the roots of any plant or tree dries out it will die. Pay close attention to potted plants. North winds are particularly brutal, they seem to suck every ounce of moisture out of the air. So, check your plants after a windy day.
Weed. And put the weeds in a bag not on the compost pile or come spring you will have a weed pile for a compost pile. Everything else that will not reseed itself put on the compost pile. I did a major cut back on deciduous plants like the pear, apple, roses, jasmine, honeysuckle, wisteria, purple basil, and ginger. I learned from the California Rare Fruit Growers just recently that the best time to cut back fruit trees is in the summer. Less chance of diseases setting in and wintering over. Just have to be careful that you do not cut back next years fruit bearing branches. Will do a section on pruning which is a whole thing into itself.
Munching is always good especially when it starts to get cold. It protects the roots and discourages weed seeds from germinating by blocking out the light when the ground starts to warm up in the spring. Try to put at least 2″ of mulch in the garden and move it away from the tree trunks and stems of plants. You don’t want anything that is going to harbor constant wet and moist conditions touching your trunk and stems. That kind of environment just invites the nasties like mold, fungus and diseases.
If you have bare spots in your yard where flowers once grew plant a winter garden. So easy to throw some lettuce seeds, carrots, spinach maybe a radish or two in that spot. Plant continuously every two weeks so you never run out. Also check with your local nurseries for winter garden plants. They will carry starts of whatever grows well in your area and time of year. Fresh greens in the winter is a real treat. My parsley is re-seeding itself and has taken over the pot. The purple basil which is a perennial is still blooming and no matter how much I cut it back it just keeps growing. I also took all the pieces I cut off and stuck them in a pot and now they are all growing. We have a lot of great fixings for spaghetti.
Which reminds me. This is a great time to plant bulbs like garlic. Put your garlic in a perennial garden or permanent pot somewhere in the sun. If you don’t harvest it all the first year it just keeps growing and multiplying. It also likes parsley and you can put it anywhere in your garden as a bug deterrent. Just make sure it has good drainage. You can buy any organic garlic and it will grow. Break a clove off a bulb and plant the fat side down and leave a little of the tip showing and that is all there is to it. Mother Nature does the rest.
Don’t forget the birds. Take the hummingbird feeder down when the temperature starts to get cold at night. Most hummingbirds are migratory. They need to get out-of-town and winter in warm places and the feeder keeps them around perhaps a little longer than they should stay. Check your local area for birds that home and feed accordingly.
This is the first year I am hosting a couple of worm bins. I know they don’t like it too cold either so will cover them up when there is frost in the air. They are going to stay outdoors and I am looking forward to the worm tea I will get from the rain water.
Get all your tools out of the weather and clean them off good. A shot of WD 40 will keep them from rusting.
O.K. Kids that about wraps it up for now. Got any questions or suggestions feel free and chime right in.