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How to protect your garden after this fall's unusually warm weather.

A wooden thermometer against a blue sky with orange fall leaves nearby.
Csaba Toth/Getty Images/iStockphoto
This fall, temperatures in our region have remained warm. Some bulbs and flowers that you planted for next spring may be sprouting right now! With a layer of protection from you, your bulbs, perennials and trees should overwinter just fine.

As an unusually warm fall continues into November, you might have noticed many things that you planted a month or two ago are sprouting.

Things like garlic and flowering bulbs, trees and perennials may be sprouting due to the warmer temperatures.

With a nice layer of organic material, most bulbs, plants and trees should overwinter without damage.

If it's your garlic bulbs that have sprung forth in the warmer temperatures, the best thing to do is to cover them with chopped leaves, chopped hay or straw to insulate them.

The same thing is true for flowering bulbs, like the tulips, daffodils and crocus that you planted a month or so ago.

Those bulbs might be sprouting, too, after the temperate autumn weather. If these bulbs are just barely breaking the soil, no need to worry.

But if they're really growing vigorously, and if you've planted them in a protected spot, cover them over with leaves, straw or woodchips to give them insulation.

A bigger concern might be perennial flowers that you planted earlier this fall. Warmer temps may have prompted these plants to put down some roots. Still, the roots are not really established in the soil yet, so they can experience frost heaves. This can happen when temperatures go up and down quickly. To prevent the bulbs from heaving out of the soil completely, cover with some wood chips or bark mulch for insulation.

And no need to worry if you see your shrubs or fruit trees flowering. They will overwinter just fine and flower again next spring.

While you're insulating various bulbs and plants with mulch or chopped leaves, now is a good time to also protect your plants from creatures like mice, voles, deer and rabbits. Do this by putting tree guards around your new trees now. And once again, err on the cautious side, and put some mulching for protection against cold winter temperatures.

Q: I want to try growing dahlias next year. Any advice? - Anna

A: Dahlias like rich soil, so plan to amend it in the fall. Make sure the soil is really well-drained. If you have a spot that is not well-drained, build a raised bed and plant dahlias there. Look for all kinds of different dahlia varieties and plant them in the spring. And because dahlias are a subtropical bulb, you'll need to dig them up every fall.

Q: Should perennials like hostas be trimmed back before winter? Or is it okay to leave them be until the snowfall? - Henry

A: Most recent horticultural advice suggests you leave all your perennial flowers in the garden to overwinter. That is where beneficial insects and pollinators will be in the leaf matter.

Q: Is it too warm to plant garlic? - Kari

A: Because we've had this extended fall, you can plant garlic right into November. Protect it with some mulch so when the ground does freeze, it will have some protection.

Q: Is getting into vermiculture worth it?

Vermiculture is the practice of raising worms. It's usually done indoors in containers that you can even keep under your sink. Feed the worms some shredded newspaper and kitchen scraps and you'll get really rich vermiculture compost. From that, you can make "worm tea," a really good additive for plants.

Q: Can I transplant an apple tree in the fall? - Joe

Apple trees need a lot of time to get their roots established so the best time to transplant your apple tree would be in the spring.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes.

You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition with Vermont Public host Mary Williams Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vermontpublic. We've closed our comments. Read about ways to get in touch here.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.