by Connie Oswald Stofko
Yes, Western New York has seen winter weather already, but the calendar says it’s still autumn. With a few days of milder weather in the forecast, get outside and do those late-season tasks while you can.
Harvest herbs & cold weather veggies
If you have any herbs or cold-weather vegetables, such as parsley, onions and peas, still growing, don’t let them go to waste. Harvest them now while they’re not hidden under a blanket of snow. You can extend the season by covering them with leaves or using a grow tunnel.
Now is the time to mulch around your perennials to protect them against bitter winter temperatures and fluctuations in temperature. Leaves are great for this purpose.
Put away your breakables
I have a glass bird bath that I might have forgotten about. I noticed it only because it was filled with eight inches of snow.
Anything that’s breakable should be brought inside. The wind might knock these things down or a branch might fall on them. Ceramic pots can crack in the cold, especially if they fill with water and freeze. For next year, here’s a hint on how to keep pots from cracking in winter.
Bring in rain barrels, plastic fountains & hoses
Even plastic can crack if a container fills up with water and freezes. That’s why you can’t leave your rain barrel hooked up all winter. If you don’t have room for a big rain barrel in your garage or shed, tip the barrel on its side.
Plastic wall-hanging fountains can crack, too, so empty those and bring them inside.
Your hoses can crack, too, if they’re filled with water. You might want to bring those in.
Label your perennials
I already have one UP–Unidentified Plant. It’s in a pot, so I won’t pull it out thinking it’s a weed. (I actually did that once. Autumn Connie was sure she would remember what was in the pot, but spring Connie was convinced she never planted a perennial in that pot. Bye-bye butterfly flower.)
When you label your plants, use labels that will last throughout winter. If the ink washes off or the tag gets knocked over, it’s no help.
If the ground where you are isn’t frozen yet, you can get a head start on spring by yanking out weeds now. The ground may be soft because of snow melt and rain, so keep to the paths and don’t step into your garden beds. Walking on soft ground can compact your soil.
Tidy up your shed or garage
You may look at this as an annoying chore, but when it’s warm and sunny out in spring, this task will be even less appealing. Organize your pots and tools. Place them where you’ll be able to find them again in spring.
Rake your leaves–or not
Leaves may have fallen onto your lawn during the recent storm, and there may be more leaves to come. In my neighborhood, there are still a few trees with leaves hanging on tight.
But if you don’t have a reason to move the leaves, just keep them where they are. Unless you have a thick mat of leaves, the leaves aren’t going to kill the grass. Bonus: You’re helping the environment! Many insects need leaf cover during winter, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.