As the summer winds down, you can make sure your garden is ready for next spring by taking a few steps now to prepare for the cold months ahead. Follow our tips for end-of-season garden maintenance.
1. Gather the Remaining Harvest
Hang-dry hardy herbs like lavender and rosemary, and freeze-dry tender varieties like basil, parsley and chives. Place rinsed leaves in ice cube trays, cover with water and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to freezer bags. When cooking, add a cube or two to flavor dishes.
Use immediately in ice pops, or preserve them in a jam! You can even freeze them whole: Gently rinse, and then drain. Once completely dry, arrange on a baking sheet, freeze overnight and transfer to a freezer bag.
Have an overabundance of cucumbers? Pickle them, along with carrots, onions and zucchini. Or make and freeze loaves of zucchini bread so you always have hostess gifts or housewarming presents on hand.
After using or preserving all of your harvest, it’s time to turn your attention to containers, perennials and outdoor décor.
2. Empty Your Pots
Pull out and toss plants, and then spread the garden soil over flowerbeds – or dump it all into your compost bin. It’s not worth saving for next year as the broken-down soil structure won’t provide optimal growth conditions.
Also, don’t worry about continuing to fertilize your perennials. They need to start storing starches rather than experience leafy growth.
3. Gather Everything Up
Bring resin fixtures indoors – if they’re left out in the elements, they can cloud or peel. Do the same with concrete décor, as freezing and thawing can crack this porous material. Birdbaths can be kept outside, but just be sure to overturn them.
Take terracotta pots indoors, but clean them first with a mixture of warm water and a few drops of Dawn dish soap, and dry them thoroughly with Bounty paper towels to prevent the clay from cracking and flaking. Stack them with some newspaper in between each pot. Containers made from fiberglass and/or weatherproof resin can be left outside.
4. Pot a Few Indoor Plants to Enjoy During the Winter
If you’re a gardening fanatic – or want to become one – there are some indoor options for fall and winter, like houseplants you can’t kill or an indoor tea garden. If you pot them indoors, use a Swiffer Sweep + Vac to clean up stray potting soil from the floor. This rechargeable sweeping system can pick up messes big and small, even from textured grout lines and crevices.