Preparing beds for winter....

lvmygrdn(z7 MD)October 25, 2005

And Im not talking about flannel sheets and comforters. haha. I was doing some cleaning/planting/moving/mulching the past couple of weeks and was wondering what other folks do. Some perennials I cut back to about 4" and others I leave until spring. Last year I didn't do anything with the gardens in the back and they were a mess come spring. What do you do?

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kimka(Zone 6B)

Since I have a ton of leaves fall on my beds every fall, I usually blow beds clear until December to avoid a thick wet mess that rots out plants. Most perennials I leave until early spring to cut back. From December on, I leave the leaves as winter protection. Usually in early March when I can't wait to get outside and fiddle but the ground isn't ready to work, I cut back stalks and blow the leaves clear. Then I start mulching with compost. Since I have a lot of oak and maple leaves (and I mean easily feet deep), they usually don't decompose fast enough to leave in place.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 8:52AM
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Filbert(7 VA)

I rake up a huge pile of leaves and then run over it several times with my mulching mower. That will reduce a 10-foot pile to a 2-foot pile. Then I spread the chopped leaves on the beds to protect the plants and improve the soil. If finely chopped, the leaves will break down within a few months.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 11:50AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

I just put a thick layer of pinestraw down that will add insulation and allow water to evaporate and not cause rot. I am told Oak leaves are also good for this purpose.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 2:42PM
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Shred em, wet em, forget em.
(by spring they will rot and lead back to compost)
no need to add ANYTHING else I.E. grass clippings, urea, food waste, horse/cow/pig/bat/goat/ manure unless you want finished compost by January.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 7:48PM
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lvmygrdn(z7 MD)

Thanks for your input. I always get such great info here.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 6:19AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I find I have much better results with a policy of almost total neglect. We have a few trees and a lot of wind, so I get a perfect inch or two of leaves stuck amongst the perennials to mulch them for the winter (on top of the pine bark last added way too many years ago...). I discovered by trial and error that by leaving the stems uncut, I have less trouble with water seeping into the cut stems and rotting out the plants over our winters, which are usually quite wet.

The downside is that I have to get out at the proper time, usually late February or early March, to cut back all the dried up stems before the new growth gets too far along. I rake out most of the leaves then too, and start a new compost pile with all the goodies!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 9:17PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

I know I am jumping ahead to spring, but it is good to put down some compost and granulated fertilizer in early spring even if it hasn't thawed. When it does the plants get a nice slow release boost that gets them off to a great start for the growing season.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 1:52PM
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I plan to blow the leaves out of the beds, shred them, and replace them back into the beds as winter mulch. Then I will sprinkle so slow release organic fertilizer; give the beds a final watering, if it doesn't rain. Then call it a day.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 3:03PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

This weekend was it, I cut everything that needed cutting back and or mulched it to tuck it in for winter. The Musa Basjoo (Hardy Japanese Snow Banana) was the messiest. It was one big black/green slimy mess that I hacked down with garden shears and put into the compost pile. I then put down a layer of dry leaves and a top coat of pinestraw to keep the pile together until spring.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 6:00PM
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