by Connie Oswald Stofko
This would have been a great weekend for raking leaves. The sun was shining, the weather was mild, and I wanted to do something outside in the yard.
Unfortunately, most of the leaves in my neighborhood are still firmly adhered to the trees.
This happens to me at this time every year. I have to look around for things to do in my garden and yard.
Here’s one task: reclaim your patio or sidewalk from your lawn. Your patio or sidewalk may be bigger than you think; that grass can really encroach on your concrete.
You can get an edger tool or just use a shovel like I did.
Don’t waste the grass that you cut away. If you have holes or weedy areas in your lawn, plant the grass plugs in that spot.
Yes, the leaves should be falling soon, but until then, what do you like to do in your garden? Here are some of my ideas.
Plant spring bulbs
You want to get bulbs for spring flowers such as tulips and daffodils planted before the ground freezes. The weather is turning colder, so get to this soon.
Harvest herbs and vegetables
You can dry or freeze herbs such as parsley. You could also make herbed vinegar.
I still have cherry tomatoes. Most are still green, and other gardeners say you can use the green ones, too. They suggest frying or roasting the green tomatoes or using them in salsa. There are lots of recipes online.
You can also try picking your green tomatoes and ripening them inside. Again, I haven’t done this, but some suggestions on the Facebook page for Vegetable Gardeners of WNY are to put the green tomatoes in a bag with ripe tomatoes or to put them in a bag with a banana or to simply wrap them in newspaper.
Put away your breakables.
Anything that’s breakable, such as glass garden ornaments or glass bird baths, should be brought inside. There is a chance that wind might topple some of these delicate items or a branch might fall on them. And if they hold water, they can crack when the water in them freezes and expands.
The same goes for ceramic pots.
Weed your garden beds
If you think about it, this may be the best time of year to weed. It’s not as hot as it was this summer. It’s not as wet as it could be in early spring when stepping in your garden can compact the soil. And of course, there’s not much you can do about weeds when the ground is frozen or covered in snow.
In addition, right now your annuals are probably done and your perennials are dying back, so you can see and get at those pesky weeds.
Clean your garage or shed
Are you one of those people who always put their tools back where they belong? Do you have your pots sorted by size?
No? Me neither.
But if you start out with a place for everything, there’s a better chance to keep everything in its place. Take a few hours to get organized.
Measure and photograph your garden beds
This winter you will probably take some time planning for spring. You’ll dream of new perennials and shrubs you want to plant.
Maybe you want to fill in a space between two perennials. You have fallen in love with a plant that gets four feet wide. Will it fit in the intended space? If you go outside in January to measure the space, will you even be able to find the two existing plants under the snow cover? Measure now.
And if you take photographs, you’ll have a better idea of what you already have and where those plants are.
Bring in your rain barrel and hoses
Don’t leave your rain barrel hooked up all winter. When the water freezes and expands, the barrel will crack– I know this because it happened to me. If you don’t have room for a big rain barrel in your garage or shed, tip the barrel on its side.
Your hoses can crack, too, if they’re filled with water. You might want to bring those in.
Tour your gardens
You might find some lovely surprises. I have a pink rose blooming and a little bud, too. My neighbor has some Stella de Oro daylilies blooming. Enjoy that flower in your garden or cut it and put it in a vase.