In the Garden: the season is coming to an end, but there is still work to be done

Just because this is my last garden column for the 2021 growing season doesn’t mean you need to rest on your laurels and quit smoking for the year. No, there is still a lot to do.

Earlier this year, I wrote about my favorite UK gardening program, “Gardener’s World”. At the end of each episode, host Monty Don seems to like giving viewers their “weekend job.” With that in mind, I present the following important tasks to you before you close your gardening activities for the year:

Annual geraniums overwinter. If there hasn’t been any frost yet, dig up your geraniums (technically, pelagiums), remove any flowers or buds, place them in a box or bin, and store them in a cool, dark place like a basement. Check them monthly. If you see mold or rot, cut it back or discard the plant if the damage is severe. Repot them in February. Keep them in a bright place indoors until the danger of frost has passed.

Overwinter the Canna lily bulbs. Once they have been subjected to a light frost, dig up the rhizomes, water the soil, cut the main stem to about 6 inches, place them in a box with sawdust or shredded paper and put them away. in a cool, dark place. . Check them monthly and plant them in pots in February or March.

Leave seed heads for the birds. We all love a tidy garden, especially at the end of the season, but don’t forget your bird friends. The seeds are an important source of nutrition for them during fall and winter, so resist the dead head of withered flowers. The best to leave are Bee Balm, Echinacea, Lavender, Black-eyed Susans, Gloriosa Daisies, and Sunflowers.

Leave habitat for beneficial insects. Fallen leaves tend to accumulate under trees and shrubs. While our first tendency is to rake the area clean, remember that many insects are a gardener’s best friend and love to spend the winter in leaf litter. Examples of beneficial insects include ladybugs, roths, soldier beetles, garden spiders, and moth flies.

Plant some garlic after the fall temperatures have cooled down a bit. This is the best time to plant garlic cloves in order to get a good harvest next summer. Look for garlic seeds at garden centers because they are certified disease free. Loosen the soil in the planting bed a little and add bone meal according to package directions.

Separate the cloves when planting and place each clove – with the pointed end up – in the soil with 2 inches of soil above the tip. Space them 6 inches apart. When you’re done, cover the planting bed with heavy mulch to insulate the soil and reduce frost heaving during the cold months. Young plants will emerge in early spring.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs over the next few weeks. Garden centers and online catalogs offer amazing varieties of tulips, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and more. Make sure you plant them before the ground freezes, and follow the package directions for the correct depth and spacing. In the spring, you’ll be glad you took the time to do it.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I will be taking time off in the fall and winter. You can find additional tips and information on all aspects of gardening on my blog at

Susan Mulvihill is the author of “The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook”. She can be reached at Watch this week’s “Anyone Can Grow a Garden” video on

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