Hello Garden Lovers!
As the gardening season wraps up, it’s time to reflect and start putting the garden to bed for winter. First frost dates in Calgary are typically between September 11 to 20, however, as Calgarians, we know our weather is unpredictable; the season could stretch a little longer, or an early frost may come. Here are some end-of-season suggestions for your garden.
- Consider the “cut and leave” method when tidying perennial beds. Cut down dead material and leave it in place after removing mature seed heads. The cut material can be composted in the spring. Many insects, including pollinators and everyone’s favourite aphid-eaters, the ladybug, require vegetation for shelter over the winter, either as adults, eggs, or pupae. The material will also insulate plant roots and help retain soil moisture. You can add a layer of fallen leaves to create the same effect.
- Take notes about the past season. Consider what grew well, what you’d like to try next year, what didn’t work, or what you had far too much of – maybe just one zucchini next time? Whatever mental notes you’ve been making over the season; to grow sweet peas, or get the beets in earlier, write it down. Chances are you won’t remember everything months from now.
- Collect your harvest. Tender vegetables like beans will be damaged by frost so should be picked. Hardy greens like kale and chard can tolerate a dip below zero, and root vegetables, like carrots and beets will taste sweeter after the first frost, so wait to harvest these. Collect herbs for drying or freezing in ice cubes and gather any seeds that you may use next year. Green tomatoes will ripen in a cardboard box or set in newspaper if the cold comes before your tomatoes ripen.
- Continue to water trees and shrubs into the fall. This year was especially dry so trees and shrubs will benefit from extra care. The City of Calgary recommends pruning trees in the early winter, so hold off on this task for a few months.
However your gardening season went, whether you lost the battle with the squirrels and hares, or transformed your space into a flowering paradise, there’s always next year.