Winter is approaching and it’s time to do our “fall clean-up” in the out-of-doors. This year I’m taking the easy route, changing some of my habits, and substituting some of the standard clean-up tasks for easier ones. Kinder to the back and more enjoyable.
We’ve been hand-watering our ½ acre to conserve water. This is time-consuming. Most of you who read my blog know that Cambria, as well as most of California has been experiencing a drought. I can let up on watering now as the days are shorter and the air moister, requiring little watering except for plants living in pots. If you have an automatic watering system be sure you change the time of day for watering and the number of times per week it needs to be in action.
Annual flowers are dying back or have already “bit the dust”. Annuals come to the end of their lives and go to seed in the fall. Let annuals settle into their own pattern of survival. If you want them to reseed themselves, let them dry and scatter their own seeds. Plants such as poppies, calendula, sweet peas, nasturtiums, and alyssum are self-sowing. You’ll enjoy newly sprouted plants as soon as rains moisten the earth.
I’m letting Mother Nature do my work for me this year. Trust the old girl to break down leaves and create food for trees and shrubs. No need to be fastidious and remove every fallen leaf. After all, your garden is “out of doors”. Rake leaves of deciduous trees and put them over the roots of shrubs and trees. Or, make a pile in an inconspicuous place and let nature do its work. You’ll have compost in the spring.
I’m trying something different in my vegetable boxes this year. I usually fill the empty boxes with dry, dead leaves from the apple and pear trees, and let it compost over the winter. Then dig it into the soil. This year I’m layering the beds with a single layer of cardboard first, then putting the dead and dry leaves on top of it. Cardboard adds carbon to compost. This layering of compostable materials is sometimes called “lasagna gardening”. Sow bugs and worms will eat it over the winter and the soil will be enriched. Magically, I’ve fertilized without lifting a bag. Just remove any material that might not have broken down and the bed is ready to plant.
I’m waiting to cut back hydrangeas this year. I usually remove blossoms as they fade. In winter, when new leaves begin to emerge, I prune again. This year, I’m leaving the big “mop heads” and “lace caps“ on the plant until stems send out new leaves. I’ll be pruning and deadheading at the same time.
If you have a way to save time and your back on chores in the garden, please use the comment space to share. I’d like to have a few more tricks up my sleeve.