By Joe Cowan
Director of Operations
During fall each year, right around the first frost, comes a great time to do some garden maintenance and pruning. New plants that you dug in during the spring and summer will do well with a heavier pruning. We planted some beautiful yellow climbing roses during the summer that really took off and produced excellent blooms. Pruning the bush almost to the ground before winter sets in allows the plant to put energy into the root system before it’s too cold. When doing a heavy pruning make sure you leave a few small branches in tact as the late season sun stills allows photosynthesis to continue without detracting from the overall objective. Many plants can follow this strategy; herbs, some fruit trees, berries, all can be pruned down to help settle into the dead of winter. A week or so prior to a heavy pruning, harvest as much as possible, herbs are the easiest to harvest and preserve by air drying which will help them come back next year with vigor.
Fall produces another question for cleanup. Here in Maine, there are copious amounts of fallen leaves and pine needles that blanket the grass and gardens. There are a couple ways I deal with this annual event; mow them into the lawn as mulch, use them to build compost, or use them as insulation for less hardy plants. Leaves are extremely useful and should not be placed into trash bags for disposal. Some maneuvering with a rake or blower may be necessary but the time spent on upcycling your fallen leaves and debris is well worth it. There are tons of ways to use the natural bounty.
In total, the gorgeous fall weather is a great time to get ahead on next year. Not only has the summer heat broken and outside work is far more pleasant, but the time you spend now on preparation for next year will pay significant dividends.