Today has been the third day of snow. It has come early here in the Black Hills of South Dakota. But, after a few days we will have lovely fall weather. We always do. This is a perfect time to put our gardens “to bed” Last week we had Rick Abrahamson, County Extension Educator-Horticulture with the Cooperative Extension Service present a program entitled “Putting our Garden to Bed”. Here is some advice I learned from Rick’s program: This is a great time to move and divide most perennials, to divide Iris, to plant bulbs and to plant trees.
About tree planting: Rick taught us that it is very important to plant a tree in a hole that is two to three times the width of the root ball and the same depth of the root ball. When planting your tree, locate the main root, you may have to dig around the top of the root ball to find it, and plant the tree so that this main root is an inch under the soil. The reason for this advice is that the grower might have planted the tree root ball a bit deep in the pot. After planting your new tree, apply three to four inches of mulch. Please no fall pruning, unless you need to prune a broken or diseased limb. The best time to prune is in the winter when the tree is dormant.
About mulching our gardens. The purpose of mulch in the winter is not to keep the ground from freezing. It is going to freeze. One purpose is to keep your sleeping plants sleeping, so that during a warm spell in the winter they are not fooled into waking up. Have you ever had tulips wake up before their time, only to be nipped by winter? The best time to apply winter mulch is after the soil has frozen.
Another great reminder Rick shared with us is that before winter causes the soil to freeze, we need to continue to regularly water our shrubs and trees as needed. This will help prevent winter burn, especially on our evergreens. Sweet dream to our sweet gardens!