No matter which way you look at it…my garden is now under a thick blanket of leaves. Last weeks succession of rain days seemed to bring them all down at once. Nothing like trying to move wet leaves. Even my commercial grade backpack blower struggles with this. But I know how important to my gardens health and well-being next year it is to get those leaves out of my beds.
And of course…as the weather changes and we feel the “hibernation” instinct coming over us here in the North Country, we think..oh..maybe I will wait till next spring…the leaves may be a good cover for my beds over the winter. Well think again!
Allowing the leaves in your bedding areas is not good practice. The dampness and decomposition only leads to mold and the potential to retain any plant diseases on plant material that could conceivably winter over. (As I began my first round of removing leaves last week, already noticed the mold starting on the leaves and in my mulch) In addition, the leaf cover serves as a nice little pocket of insulation for all those little rodents to winter over…yes the moles, voles, and mice. And we all know what they would like to be feasting on over the winter..under that blanket…yes your plant roots! So get out your blowers and rakes, blow out the leaves and cut back the remaining plant material from your perennials.
And the bonus for you physically, a great aerobic work out for the whole family! Ten minutes of raking eaves counts towards 150 minutes of moderate exercise according to the Center for Disease Control Prevention, ages 18-65. Think of this as your final gardening workout for the season, before you have to rely on that indoor gym routine come the winter months……..sustainable gardens…sustainable life!
This time of year gardeners often use bone meal as a root tone supplement when putting their gardens to bed for the winter. And although this makes good sense from a biochemistry point of view…I have found over the past few years, adding this to my bedding areas and bulbs I plant for spring display have attracted winter rodent feasting. I have no scientific evidence. merely experiences over the past few years. I also had this very discussion with a local horticulture source. And we both agreed we no longer add bone meal in the fall. It tends to attract unwanted rodents. So take this tip with the proverbial “grain of salt”.
After a good garden clean up in the Fall…I do add a fertilizer low in nitrogen and higher in potassium and phosphates to my beds after a rain event. Again…I look @ this as a little extra food in the soil before the full freeze comes. Again…no scientific referencing here…practice success dictated.
Enjoy these waning days of autumn out in the gardens!