A pink Confederate Rose still on the plant.

Confederate roses can be rooted over the winter

Now that the summer growing season is over and the temperatures are getting a bit cooler, it’s time to look toward next year’s gardening. It’s never too early to prepare and here are some key chores to do this month.

  1. Clean up your vegetable gardens and raised beds. Remove dead and dying plants, turn the soil, add organic matter and put the garden to bed for the winter.
  2. Collect leaves from your yard, shred them or run them over with a mulching lawn mower and add them to your compost pile or put a layer of them directly in your garden beds. You can also use them to mulch around tender perennials and shrubs.
  3. Repair garden fencing and raise-bed repairs while it’s cooler.
  4. Consider purchasing the new corrugated garden beds that are gaining popularity. Place them in spots that get 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. Go ahead and fill them with soil – a combination of bagged garden soil, organic matter, shredded leaves from your yard and compost. Add some 10-10-10 fertilizer according to the instructions on the bag. You can top them with a double layer of newspaper and mulch to hold the paper in place and you’ll be ready to plant in them come spring.
  5. Prune back fruiting ramblers, such as blackberries and raspberries. Remove suckers, which can be replanted in the same bed or used to propagate more plants.
  6. Divide daylilies and other perennials, if you haven’t done so in the past 4 to 5 years. When the clumps get too large, they can stop producing flowers. Find new beds for the extras, or share them with friends to plant in the fall.
  7. Take semi-ripe and hardwood cuttings of your favorite outdoor plants to propagate. Confederate roses, dinner-plant hibiscus, angel trumpets, gardenias and various types of hydrangeas can be rooted over the winter. You can use a combination of vermiculite and peat moss, but last year with my seed starting I tried a new product, PittMoss, www.pittmoss.com. It worked great, holds moisture, is organic and weed-free, creating a good environment to use for starting stem cuttings. I also use a powered or liquid rooting medium according to package instructions for some of the hardwood cuttings.
  8. Mulch your gardens and landscape for winter to protect the plants’ roots from harsh temperatures.
  9. Collect hoses, sprinklers, timers on faucets and other irrigation aids; drain the water from them and store them in a protected place.
  10. Color for now: Plant pansies in clumps for greater impact this winter. Protect them from grazing deer by either using a deterrent spray like Liquid Fence or Hinder, or covering them with mesh netting or chicken-wire cloches.
  11. Color for later: Fall is the ideal time to plant bulbs, and cheery daffodils are the most rewarding. They’re deer-proof, they multiply year after year, and you can pick them to make sweet bouquets in the spring.

Photo: by Pamela A. Keene