What does the gardener need to do before winter sets in?
It is not too late to take care of some late garden activities before the cold sets in. When all of the outdoor jobs have been completed, you will be ready to enjoy all of the indoor winter activities such as holiday parties and TV football games.
Now is a great time to plant those flowering spring bulbs into the cool ground. Bulbs offer a great alternative to other plants. They magically pop their heads up in spring and usher in a new season. There is a wide variety of bulbs suited for North Georgia. You can plant them in pots, shrub borders and in natural settings in your landscapes. Plant bulbs such as hyacinths, daffodil, tulips and crocus.
Always remember planting depth and spacing is very important to the success of bulbs. Spacing can vary from 2 inches to several feet. A general rule of thumb to planting depth (from top to bulb to soil surface) is two to three times the greatest diameter for bulbs 2 inches or more in diameter and three to four times the greatest diameter for smaller bulbs.
Avoid planting bulbs in line formations or spotty designs. Always consider the landscape effect you are trying to achieve. Planting in masses in circular designs creates a more colorful uniform look.
Plant bulbs upright and press the soil firmly around them. Water the beds and mulch and then forget about them until next year.
You can also force bulbs indoors now for some beautiful holiday décor. Plant paper white narcissus or lovely red amaryllis bulbs in flower vases or any type of container that can hold water. Plant the bulbs in soil with the tips above the soil line. Place in a sunny spot and always keep the soil moist. Another way to force bulbs is to plant them directly in water surrounded by river rocks or decorative stone or glass. Add water in a container at least 3 -4 inches deep so that the base of the bulb touch the water. Roots will develop rather quickly. The fragrant flowers bloom within about three weeks of planting, for almost instant gratification.
Some other garden activities to do now is to have your soil tested for your shrubs, vegetable gardens, fruit and nut trees and turf. The Extension office will gladly help you with this. Just bring in a cup and a half of your soil and you can get the results in about 10 days. This will insure your soil is in excellent health for the growing season ahead.
Apple trees can be pruned soon after all of the leaves have fallen off of them. Wait a while on other fruit and nut trees until later in the winter.
Clean garden areas of weeds and dead debris and mulch shrubbery with fresh material. Use and store fallen leaves and start a compost pile. You will have some natural fertilizer by next year.
Store recently dug caladium tubers in a cool dry place and make sure you have divided and transplanted day lilies, liriope (monkey grass) and irises.
We still have a few nice enjoyable days, so get out and enjoy the weather. We will have plenty of time this winter to hibernate!
Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.