Try potting spring bulbs indoors to encourage some blooming over the winter, says master gardener John Hethrington
For the die-hard gardeners out there who are not deterred by dormant plants and soil covered in leaves or fallen snow, there’s lots to do in November and all winter long to plan for a blooming spring and flower-full summer.
While we have had some rain in October, I would suggest a little last-minute deep watering of trees and shrubs before the frost.
Buy discounted bulbs on sale and get them into the ground. Your extra efforts will bloom in the spring.
Remove annual plants from the garden and from pots or other containers. Dump plants and soil onto your compost pile. Clean pots thoroughly and store them.
There is an annual argument among gardeners as to whether you should cut back your perennials, grasses etc., in the fall, or leave them long for “winter interest.”
With no fall cleanup, spring cleanup can be daunting. It can be delayed by wet weather, a late spring, or there can be instant summer. That’s why I am opting for a big fall cleanup to get a jump on spring 2023. Suit yourself.
Dig up and bring in dahlia tubers, tuberous begonias and gladiola corms when the leaves turn yellow. Remove the soil and wash the tubers. Remove little cormlets from glad corms for more plants next year. Cure the tubers and corms for 2-3 weeks in warm dry place. Place in trays and cover with dry compost, peat moss, sand or perlite. Store at about five degrees Celsius in a cold cellar, or a slightly heated garage.
Try potting up some spring bulbs like amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus and force them into bloom for Christmas and/or for late winter indoor colour. Different bulbs will require various lengths of cold storage in your fridge or cold cellar to flower, so read the product packaging carefully.
Complete the winterization procedures for plants and containers. Drain hoses and clean all other garden equipment. To be a perfect gardener, sharpen your tools and put linseed oil on wood handles. Paint small hand tool handles red so you won’t lose them next spring.
Protect young trees from rodents by using wire collars or plastic protectors.
Hill up your hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses with 10 or more inches of compost covering the stems, or use a metal or plastic rose collar and fill it with compost before the ground freezes.
Create one or more winter/Christmas urns using a variety of evergreen branches. Find branches with berries and add colour with red dogwood and dried hydrangea blossoms.
Check mulch levels in gardens. Pull mulch back two-to-three inches from around shrubs and tree trunks to discourage rodents. Add more compost or leaves to beds if you have them. It provides winter homes for pollinators and other insects.
Order seed catalogues for next spring.
I usually recommend that you stock up on Triple-19 fertilizer now, so it is ready to put on top of the snow on your flower beds in March, before the snow melts. Unfortunately, there will be no fertilizer available until next spring, as most of it comes from Russia. The war, you know. In early March, before the snow melts, call a local supplier to make sure they have it in stock.
John Hethrington has been gardening since the age of 9. He spent his early life gardening in Toronto and earned his certification as a Master Gardener before moving to Meaford where he cultivates 2.5 acres with 20 different gardens.