Get a jump on next spring's gardening. Repair fencing, restore tools and replace items.
Late fall feels like a quiet time in the garden but there are still tasks to keep you busy!
Consider restoring, repairing and replacing things. Checking off these task now means you'll have more time for the fun planting when the weather gets warmer next year.
First stop, repairing: If you have wood, wire or plastic fencing around gardens and raised beds, check to see if any sections need shoring up before the ground freezes. Strengthening fencing sections or damaged spots keeps deer out.
Wire fencing that you've erected to keep rabbits and smaller critters out of your gardens could also use a refresh. Ensure that small animals will have no way in by laying chicken wire at the bottom of the fence and bending it away in an "L" shape. After that, lay some sod over it. When small animals start to get busy again next spring and try to dig, they'll be stopped by the chicken wire barrier.
Small engine tools could also benefit from repair and restoration right now. When the weather gets warm again, repair shops will be crowded but if you bring your mower in now for blade-sharpening, oil change and tune-up, you'll be ahead of the game.
The same holds true for hand-pruners, hedge trimmers or anything you need to sharpen so it does its job well. Take care of that now - either at a repair shop or on your own - then store the tools for the winter.
And replacing miscellaneous items now can also get you ready to garden in spring. Doing so now means you won't be running around looking for items like grow lights, watering nozzles, plants stakes and plant markers.
Q: I've read that beetles don't like mums. Are there other plants or flowers that I can plant in my south-facing window boxes earlier in the season that will also help repel the beetles? - Carol, via email
A: The short answer is no, there aren't plants that could actually repel the Asian ladybug species.
You could take a different tack and create a habitat for ladybugs away from your house. These beetles prefer to overwinter in the crevices of rocky ledges. Perhaps set small piles of rocks in different areas away from your house and maybe the beetles will move in!
Q: I would like some tips on overwintering herbs. I usually pot some of them, but I have limited success in getting them to make it through the winter. All of my windows are north-facing though I do have a small balcony where I can continue to keep them outside in the early to middle part of the fall. I usually try to overwinter basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and some lemon balm. - Sarah, in Barre
A: Mediterranean herbs like thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage all want to have a nice sunny window, especially in the winter. If you've only got a north-facing one, put them in a sunniest spot you have.
Once they're indoors, give your potted herbs some time to adjust to their indoor setting and water them but not too much. Using the herbs throughout the winter not only livens up your dishes and in spring, you can bring them back outdoors.
As for overwintering herbs on your balcony, if you can protect them with a cold frame or something that would insulate them from winter's cold, you might get them to kind of creep through the winter and make it till the spring.
Herbs like parsley and chives can take a little more shade and lower light levels and would do better overwintering.
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