November 14, 2015

1 - The garden season seems to have ended, but it has just entered into a different, and important phase, of garden.

Yard and Garden November 14, 2015

Q.

Now that the gardening season has ended, what now? What do you recommend that gardeners to do now?

A.

Gardening season really never ends, especially if you garden indoors through the winter. However, there are a number of important outdoor activities.

First, winterize your irrigation system. Disconnect hoses from the outside faucets and insulate those faucets. You may need to be sure you have access to the faucets and hoses during the winter if we have some dry months. Trees, shrubs, and perennials may need irrigation once a month if the predicted precipitation does not arrive. Drain underground and above ground irrigation components to prevent them from bursting when ice forms. When water freezes it expands and can exert significant force in irrigation systems.

If you have not cleaned garden debris, leaves, dead and dying plants, and weeds from your gardens, now is the time to do so. These materials may be composted to make material to improve your soil next year. Diseased plants and weeds with seeds are often put in the trash, but it may be possible to put them in black plastic garbage bags in a sunny location. Our New Mexico sunny days may provide enough energy to raise the temperatures inside the bags above the 160 degree point needed to kill weed seeds and most plant diseases. Once the plant material has been pasteurized, they may be composted. Heating in the compost pile, if it is properly constructed will provide a second chance at pasteurization.

Clean and oil your garden tools before storing them away for the winter. Oiling the metal tools should help prevent corrosion during storage. Linseed oil will help preserve wood handles. Winterize, drain gasoline, or otherwise prepare your power tools for winter. This will make gardening next year much easier.

You are entering the season for pruning trees and shrubs. If you have a large number of plants to prune, you can start now. If you have only a few, you can wait to prune at the end of winter. Save evergreen plants for later in the winter to prune so that you do not expose the parts that have been sheltered below outer branches. Exposing these inner branches may result in sunburn and desiccation, especially if the winter is cold, sunny, windy, and dry.

Now is the time to begin perusing catalogs, nurseries, and online garden sites for seeds for your garden next year. If you start seedlings indoors you will want to have your seeds delivered before the New Year.

While there are many other things you can do at this season, one that many gardeners do not do is review the past year. Consider where you had problems and determine solutions to those problems. If you kept a garden journal (a really good idea) you can summarize the results of your garden this year. This summary will help you plan your garden for next year. Consider how to rotate crops next year to avoid the buildup of diseases in the soil and the depletion of nutrients. Reviewing the successes in your garden this year will encourage you as you prepare for next year.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.

Links:

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook page.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!