By Brad & Susan Emery

Closing up your garden for the year is a must, although bittersweet. I love our garden, but we live in southern Ontario and we will have a winter; it’s not Florida you know. So, what to do to prepare your garden?

Start pruning back your perennial foliage, remove the dead stems, and trim finished flowers. Although to be honest we often do this one in the spring, sometimes in March, while the plant is still dormant. We do this because I’m still working on preserving our harvests and my husband is cutting wood and preparing our garden beds for winter. So if you’re busy now, pruning can be done early spring as well.

Next, don’t forget to save your summer bulbs. Best practices to store summer bulbs is to place them in a cool, dry location such as a storage room or cool basement. The optimal storage temperature is between 45 and 50 F (between 7 and 10 C); the trick is not to let them freeze. I’ve often seen bulbs stored with shredded paper.

Now, let’s add nutrition and protection for your soil. Take all those fallen leaves that litter your yard, mulch them, and add them into your garden and/or flower beds to provide protection and soil nutrition. If you have manure that needs time to break down, you can add that now too. Did you know you can use your dog’s poo in your flower beds? Don’t use in your vegetable beds, however. Start a compost pile, turn weekly, and add your dog poo to grass clippings, plant, or other organic waste, and even sawdust as a source of food for the microbes. This may be something to start now so you have a great compost for next year’s beds.

And let’s not forget the patio! Extend the lifespan of your patio furniture by taking care of it. Now is the time to clean, cover, or store your patio furniture and accessories. It’s also a good time to do the same with your gardening tools.

Lastly, protect your plants. Provide winter protection to your sensitive shrubs such as hybrid roses or azaleas.

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