Are you feeling a bit behind in your fall garden clean up work? Do you think that you just can’t get it all done before the snow flies, or the rains come, or whatever happens in your neck of the woods to signal the end of fall and the beginning of winter?
Is there a sense of panic starting to overtake you every time you look around your garden and see all that you still need to do to get the gardens ready for winter?
I have to admit that yesterday when I was outside, even though it was sunny and 79 degrees, I felt this sense of being behind in fall clean up. That feeling was slowly creeping up on me as I saw leaves still on the trees, tomatoes and peppers still growing in the garden and not a single perennial cut back or annual pulled out or container emptied. Something whispered in my ear, “You’re behind, you’re behind, winter is coming, have you bought that new snow blower yet?”
You know what I did to silence that little voice? No, I didn’t clean up the entire garden in one day and then go buy a new snow blower. But that’s a good guess.
I looked in my garden journal to see when I did the garden clean up in past years.
Here’s what I found:
2001 – Most of the big fall clean up, emptying the containers and putting away the garden ornaments, was done on November 4th.
2002 – November 3rd was a big clean up day, though it appears I did a lot of vegetable garden clean up on October 27th.
2003 – I was early that year, doing a lot of clean up on October 30th.
2004 – I split up the container clean up and garden ornament stowing between two days, October 30th and November 6th. That could be an indication that I had increased the numbers of those so it was no longer possible to do it all in one day.
2005 – Isn’t this fascinating information? I cleaned up the containers on October 29th, what an early bird I was that year, but I finished it up on November 4th.
2006 – Last year I once again split the container clean up/garden ornament stowaway between two days, October 28th and November 4th.
In all years, I was still trimming up and cutting back perennials and finishing up the vegetable garden clean up well into November.
Whew! Now I am all relaxed, whistling and humming along, because I AM NOT BEHIND.
Do you still feel like you’re behind? What useful information can you get from this look back through my garden journal?
Here are five lessons I’ve learned about cleaning up the garden in the fall.
1. Find your own pace and rhythm for your garden. Just because it snowed in Colorado or someone posted triumphantly on their blog that they finished getting ready for winter in their garden doesn’t mean garden clean up needs to be done in your garden.
2. Don’t try to get all the clean up done at once. As your garden grows, it is likely that what once took a day, may take two days or longer.
3. Keep your own garden journal/records, unique to your garden. Sometimes the information is useless; other times, it’s a good reminder of what works in your garden and when you generally do most tasks.
4. Relax and enjoy the fall season. Enjoy the process of garden clean up, the process of creating that clean slate for next year’s garden.
5. Don’t clean up the garden too soon, or you’ll miss late bloomers and rebloomers, like the clematis above, blooming yesterday in my sister’s garden.
Now do you still feel like you are behind?