How to prepare a garden for winter? 8 most important things
Successful wintering of plants is the key to their decorativeness and a good harvest in the next season. What will be the coming winter, I'm afraid no one knows, not even weather forecasters. Therefore, it is always better to play it safe and complete the entire list of necessary works to prepare the garden for the winter. Then, standing at the window with a cup of morning coffee, you can calmly admire the snowdrifts, snowstorms and plant silhouettes ... At the same time, rejoice not only that our legs are warm, but also that the plants sleep comfortably. So…
1. Autumn feeding
Do not neglect this rule, many substances contribute precisely to a successful wintering and provide quality flowering in the next season. In the case of fruit, this means that they provide the crop.
First of all, it is phosphorus and potassium. Let me remind you that we excluded nitrogen from top dressing already from the middle of summer (except for annuals, they should not winter). Nitrogen promotes growth, and everything that grows too late freezes in the winter and can cause other problems. Therefore, in the fall, no nitrogen or its minimum amount, but - phosphorus and potassium. What exactly?
You can use superphosphate, double superphosphate, potassium sulfate and make the recommended dose on the packaging in the trunk circle. You can go a more modern method and use complex mineral fertilizers designed specifically for the fall. They are based on phosphorus, potassium, there may be a little nitrogen (this is not scary) and trace elements, which are also very necessary for our plants wintering in the open ground.
Regarding the timing of these dressings. You can start them already at the end of summer and carry out before the onset of the first real frosts. Many are mistaken, believing that the first freeze stops the development of the plant. No, this is just a signal to the tops to fully prepare for the winter. And the roots, on the contrary, grow better in soil with a temperature of + 8 ... + 10 degrees (the soil cools for a long time) and continue to nourish the plant.
2. Try to harden the roots
Everyone knows that the source of heat in frosty times for plants is the earth. It is good if snowy winters in your region, snow is the best blanket for the roots, it does not allow frost to penetrate the roots of plants and retains heat coming from the ground.
But if frosts are without snow, then this is very dangerous. Moreover, trees with damaged frost roots do not die immediately, they can even wake up in the spring and even bloom, but then they will die. If you find in the spring that the seedling is developing poorly, slowly, then most likely it was the roots that froze.
You can, of course, try to save the plant with stimulants that restore roots (Zircon, Kornevin, Heteroauxin). But earlier it was practiced in the fall to conduct a root hardening procedure. To do this, approximately in October, the earth is shoveled from the tree trunk so that the thick roots leading to the trunk are exposed. Keep them open until the first frost, and then fall asleep with dry earth and mulch well.
What is the meaning of such a procedure and what is “hardening" for plants? With a decrease in temperature, physicochemical transformations occur in the plant and substances are released that prevent cells from freezing with the liquid. As you know, water freezes when it freezes, and plant cells burst - the plant dies.
So, by digging the earth and artificially lowering the temperature in the root zone, we provoke the plant to release these same antifreezes or cryoprotectants. Try, the main thing is not to overdo it, do not reveal the roots too deeply.
3. Carry out water-charging irrigation
This is one of the most important conditions for a good wintering. The main thing is to choose the right moment. It is carried out already after leaf fall, but until the moment when the soil begins to freeze.
Here you are likely to encounter a certain difficulty: it seems that you need to water it as late as possible, but you need to have time to drain the water from the water supply. So do not yawn.
The meaning of proper water-loading irrigation is to saturate the earth with large amounts of water to a great depth. However, in winter, plants will not suffer from drought, especially if the winter is frosty and arid. Water is able to draw heat from the bowels of the earth to the surface and the roots will comfortably winter.
How much to water? There is no single recommendation and cannot be. On sandy soils, I pour 100-120 liters of water on a 5-6 year old tree. If the soil is clayey, such an amount of water can be excessive and cause harm instead of benefit.
Read more about water-charging irrigation, read here. What is water-charging irrigation and how to use it correctly?
4. Mulch the trunk circles
Probably, only the lazy one does not know about the benefits of mulching. The correct, thick layer of mulch (at least 8 cm) is able to save plants from many problems in winter: moisture evaporates less, after pre-winter water-charging irrigation, the heat of the earth is better kept in the root zone. But it’s worth understanding that you need to cover the mulch ground not only near the stem, but over a wide area around the tree to protect the entire root zone.
All plant residues are used in my business: fallen leaves, clippings of perennial crops, needles and even dry weeds from a neighboring site (it’s better than burning). If income allows, then you can use peat, bark and other materials. By the way, it’s worth to step back a little from the tree trunk, leaving a small gap of 1-2 cm, because during thaws and melting snow the mulch will inevitably get wet. Contact with a thick layer of wet mulch is bad.
5. Spend an autumn rooting spray
Its essence is that in late autumn, but at positive temperatures, the garden can be treated with very strong solutions, destroying the spores of diseases and the laying of pests. The question is quite controversial, as I wrote in the article Autumn rooting garden spraying - are they needed or not?
But, nevertheless, you can try, especially if your garden suffered greatly from diseases and pests this season.
6. Protection of boles and branches
I want to say right away, if you think that whitewashing saves the garden from the same pests and diseases, then I don’t think so. The only thing for which it is useful is protection against freezing.
At the end of winter and the beginning of spring, the bright sun strongly heats the bark of plants, and nightly frosts cool it sharply and strongly. Such significant temperature differences lead to rupture of the cortex - frost holes. But mind you, this happens in late winter – early spring. Therefore, it is better to whiten at this time, because the usual whitewash based on lime will not survive until spring.
Better yet, use more modern, persistent garden paints, and even better, agrofibre garden bandages. As a life hack I can advise light tights or nets from onions and potatoes. They protect perfectly not only from overheating by the sun, but also from rodents, hares. Trunks and branches are wrapped with these materials at the end of autumn (it’s more convenient).
7. Particular attention to conifers
In addition to water-charging irrigation, conifers will need to wrap the branches with rope so that a large amount of snow does not deform and does not break the branches. It is recommended to gently shake the same snow manually (gently !!!).
For young seedlings, it is worthwhile to install screens on the south side that protect them from the spring sun. Indeed, with a still frozen root system that does not supply moisture to the plant, the sun is able to dry needles. The screen itself is two poles on which light fabric, burlap, agrofibre, etc. are fixed.
I did not advise any fertilizers for conifers and I will not advise. Maximum 1 is to fall in good fall compost trunk circle circle with compost.
8. Build Shelters
If you grow more heat-loving plants than is usual in your region, or if there are doubts whether small seedlings will be able to winter, arrange a comfortable wintering for them.
The principle here is simple. It is not enough to wrap the seedling with agrofibre or, as some, with thermal insulation from a hardware store. Such a shelter will save only from the frosty withering wind, but it is useless from severe frost. The temperature under such a shelter will be exactly the same as outside. Plants do not emit heat, alas ... We remember that only the earth can be a source of heat in the winter for our plants. On frosty days, it is always warmer than air.
Therefore, the shelter must be made wide, capturing as much of the area of the trunk circle as possible. In simple terms, it looks like this. An inverted bucket without a bottom or a cut-off 6-10 liter plastic bottle is placed on the seedling, and a mountain of leaves and plant debris is poured on top. It would be nice to cover the top with plastic film, making a roof, so that the leaves do not get wet (dry keeps heat better).
If the plant is large and the bucket is cramped for it, then you have to make a frame of slats or metal-plastic pipes and wrap it with agrofiber, and then cover it with foliage. The main thing is that there should be an air gap between the seedling and the insulating material.
It would be nice to provide for the possibility of sometimes, during thaws, ventilating the building, getting rid of condensate. Of course, such insulation is suitable for deciduous crops. For evergreens who need even a little light in winter, they’ll have to tinker more.