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Burst of color says it is time to ... Get your garden ready for next year

Published: Thu, October 26, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Kathy Miller

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

The calendar says it’s fall. The temperature may disagree, but the colors of the Earth say it all.

Each day, the leaves on our trees display evidence of the coming change. As a gardener, I prepare my gardens for the coming of winter and dream about next year’s display being the best yet.

There is much to do to put the gardens to bed. As gardeners, we each have our own projects and our fall chores we think are most important, and we get them done at our own pace.

For me, the fall is about taking notes and planning for the future of my garden.

I start by taking my iPad or phone to the garden and photographing all my successes and disappointments of this year’s design. I then make notes on each picture – what I want to move, what I want to remove and what I need to divide. I pay close attention to height, size and color combinations, and how they complement or confuse the visual appeal.

Next, I examine each plant, removing any diseased growth and cutting back to a proper resting height, allowing enough of the plant for freeze burn.

I remove and store my focal decorations that would not weather well during the harsh winter winds and cold of the Mahoning Valley. I make a to-do list of anything that might need to be repainted or repaired for next year that I can do during winter. For me, this is helpful early in the year on those days I get the urge to garden but it’s too early to go outside. I will work on preparing my pots and decorations and get excited about spring. It’s also a great time to make any plant markers.

We keep talking soil at the OSU Extension office. Thus, I consider any soil preparations I need to improve my soil and to prepare for next year’s crop of flowers. Compost, fertilizer and mulch are things I can add now to make next year better.

This is the time I plant spring bulbs and some new perennials for next summer.

Consider adding a slow-acting organic fertilizer in each hole to have maximum results. This makes each one a great surprise next year.

I take time now to rake out any debris around each plant and properly dispose of any questionable diseased material. I never put diseased material in the compost bin. I try to keep ahead of the leaves that drop and keep tree limbs and sticks picked up as they come down.

I plan my holiday decorations so I’m ready for the season. This is rewarding when the temperature grows cold and the calendar gets filled.

Most of all, take time to enjoy your outside living room. For all of us gardeners, it is a magical time of year!

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