Precautions for a Colder Season

Autumn may have only just begun, but the cold months of winter will soon be upon us. Here are some tips on how to prepare your garden for winter.

Digging up bulbs
Summer bulbs such as dahlias, gladioli, tuberous begonias and cannas are not winter-hardy.
These bulbs should be removed from the ground before the first night frost. Shake off the excess soil and remove any damaged sections. Summer bulbs should first be allowed to dry in a sheltered place before storage. Once they are dry, wrap them in newspaper or put them in a crate and cover with dry peat dust, then move them to a frost-free place until it is time for replanting in spring.

Tub plants
Some fully grown tub plants can easily be left outdoors in winter if the temperature does not drop below -12 °C. However, earthenware pots do require some extra protection.

  1. Line the pots with bubble wrap. Of course, you could wrap the entire pot in bubble wrap, but that would not be very attractive. Protect the roots of the tub plant with a layer of mulch or straw.
  2. Wrap reed mats around the pots and their plants.
  3. Dig a hole in the ground and bury the pot and plant in its entirety.

Move subtropical tub plants such as oleanders, hibiscuses and citrus trees indoors, or store them in a frost-free outdoor greenhouse. Geraniums, fuchsias and pomegranates can be pruned back slightly and then moved to a cool, dry, frost-free place. Give all these tub plants sufficient water to prevent dehydration.

Box trees and privets in pots can be left outside during winter. They will need watering from time to time, of course, as moisture continues to evaporate from the leaves, especially in bright winter sunshine. In severe frost it is advisable to protect the bushes temporarily by covering them with bubble wrap.

The greenhouse
The greenhouse should be cleaned thoroughly in preparation for winter. This is because, in addition to staying warm in winter, it is also important for greenhouse plants to get as much light as possible. If the glass is dirty, it will not let in enough sunlight and the plants will suffer. It is also important to check whether the greenhouse heater is still working so that you are not faced with any last-minute surprises.

The pond
Fallen leaves can cause problems for the pond at this time of year. The leaves should be fished out regularly using a fishing net. Another possibility is to cover the pond with netting during the autumn months. 

It is also important to clean the pond thoroughly in autumn. This will help to prevent acidification of the bed of the pond during the winter months as well as the growth of algae in early spring. Remove dead vegetation, fallen leaves and surplus underwater plants, and also remove the sediment from decomposing organic matter on the bed of the pond. Any material removed from the pond should be left next to the pond for a few hours, enabling creatures that have accidentally been removed with this organic matter to crawl back into the pond. These creatures are essential for a proper balance in the pond. Incidentally, the organic matter removed is an excellent ingredient for the compost heap.

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