published Saturday, November 19th, 2011

5 tips to prepare Garden for cold weather

Green tomatoes can be found at specialty and farmers markets and have a tart flavor perfect for frying or pickling.
Green tomatoes can be found at specialty and farmers markets and have a tart flavor perfect for frying or pickling.
Photo by McClatchey Tribune /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

If you haven't prepared your garden for cold weather, now is the time, said Tom Stebbins, director of Master Gardeners of Hamilton County.

Cleaning out beds and preparing new plantings for the spring are good activities for this time of year, he said.

Begin with cleaning out the vegetable gardens, Stebbins said. Pull up gardening stakes and cages and store them until next spring. It's not too late to can or freeze vegetables salvaged before this week's frost.

Late fall can allow for one last flowering of perennials, so cut them back now since the area has already experienced a frost, Stebbins said.

While performing garden maintenance, Stebbins said, raking and bagging leaves is not actually beneficial for plants.

"It'd be nicer if you could somehow chop up the leaves or put them through a lawn mower, because they're very nutritious," he said.

If taking leaves off the lawn is necessary, he said, they are a good addition to a compost pile.

5 Tips

Here are Stebbins' tips for preparing the garden.

1. Pull up any vegetable remains.

2.Test your soil to prepare it for next season.

3. "Leave" nature alone. Either allow fallen leaves to naturally nourish soil, or add them to a compost pile.

4. Trim back perennials and weed around the base of fruit trees to create a protective perimeter. Consider a loose-fitting trunk guard.

5. Plant trees now. November through March, Stebbins said, is good tree-planting time.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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