Secrets to Grow on
Just because your garden's not growing doesn't mean there isn't work to do. Try these reader-tested tips to prepare your garden for the winter and, hopefully, a successful spring.
Fruits for Your Labors
I never have enough organic material to add to my compost pile. So I go to fruit stands in the area and ask for their overripe fruit. They're going to throw it away anyway, so they're usually happy to get rid of it. And it's free! —Linda Kovalchick, Spokane, Washington
In areas with mild winters, try this fall routine for a weed-free garden next spring. Pull the spent vegetation from your beds; work in compost you've been saving since spring, and mulch with a heavy covering of marsh hay or straw. In spring, just pull back the hay and plant your garden. — Ruth Weaver, Joshua, Texas
My dad covers his entire garden with old carpeting in the fall. In winter, he can split wood there without getting muddy. — Barb Wagner, Willmar, Minnesota
Yesterday's News, Today's Fertilizer
After raking autumn leaves into bags, I pile the bags in an out-of-the-way corner. In spring, I line the aisles of the garden with old newspapers, then cover them with the bagged leaves. The combination of newspaper and leaves holds in moisture and minimizes weeds. It also provides a nice place to walk when the rest of the garden is muddy. In fall, all this is turned under for organic matter, and the cycle continues. — Nita Young, Nebo, North Carolina
I plant dahlias, gladiolus and cannas in black plastic greenhouse pots, then set the potted plants into the soil. In fall, I just lift the pots and store them for the winter. This saves time and money. And it prevents me from injuring tubers and corms with a shovel.
— Charlene Margetiak, Norwalk, Ohio
Each fall, I till several loads of manure and all our leaves and clippings into the garden. It doesn't seem to matter whether the manure is fresh or composted. We get the same good results either way. — David Halbrook, Kings Beach, California
To harvest seeds of flowers like cockscomb (Celosia), I put the flowers in a brown paper bag to dry. The seeds soon fall off and can easily be saved.
— Monica Bengston, Independence, Iowa
Paper Bag Plants
To save geraniums through winter, gently dig out the plants before a killing frost. Shake off the soil and place them in brown paper bags. After a couple of days, pull another brown bag over the top and store the plants in a cold cellar (with temperatures in the 40s). In early spring, remove them from the bags, clean off the dead leaves, pot them in soil and water well. Prune them to the desired height. Some of my geraniums have overwintered this way for more than 20 years. — Mrs. Harold Beisel, Moorefield, Ontario