It's January and my garden is a mess. That's OK because it's January! My garden could be the perfect mixture of evergreen conifers and winter color landscape plantings specifically designed to brighten the gloomiest winter day, but it's not. I would love that, but my garden was never put together for the winter color. I'm gradually adding plants for that purpose but we aren't there yet. While you can argue that gardening can be done year round I tend to let winter become my offseason.
Gardening is kind of like baseball. You start training in the spring, play hard while the weather is awesome, endure the hot summers, and close out the season with a big harvest at the end. Then rest and recover to do it all over again. While we are resting gardeners transition to the role of the management. I think and plan the garden for next year and do a little maintenance here in the garden and there but mostly I take time away from the garden. Of course the garden takes care of itself - in its own way.
Cool season weeds spring up all over. The mulch continues to decay to the point where every garden is in need of a good mulching. The old perennial and annual stems are still standing. I never cut them back until the signs of spring have begun in earnest. By leaving the stems up I allow an air pocket to form around the root crown of the plant which offers it a little more protection from the winter cold. If leaving the stems up in the fall bothers you then go ahead and cut them back in the fall. It does help keep borderline plants alive when you're cheating zones but isn't critical for most plants.
I have a lot of work ahead of me but really it's just work from fall deferred until spring. I find that in the spring I'm more energetic and more enthusiastic about getting the work done. In the fall I tend to be more thoughtful and introspective about the garden and while I may rush around trying to gather leaves for composting other activities tend to slow down. My spring time activities tend to be more directed and I feel like getting more done. So soon my garden won't be as much of a mess!
So what is my Spring Preparedness Garden Plan? Sounds like a good follow-up post to this one! To sum it up I could just say "all the things I didn't get done in fall" but that doesn't cover it very well.
For today we'll just say:
and tomorrow we'll launch a plan!