By Nikki Koloff
We have enjoyed a long, beautiful fall season. Now that we have had our first hard freeze, its time to put our veggie and perennial gardens to bed for the winter.
A thorough fall cleanup prevents the spread of disease and pests, helps keep our garden beds healthy and gives us a head start for the next spring season. Here is a list of helpful hints for your fall cleanup:
b Remove tomato and pepper plants, squash and cucumber vines. Plants that are diseased need to be thrown in the trash. Household compost piles generally do not reach the recommended temperature of 140 degrees to kill off disease and harmful pathogens.
b Add compost or manure to your beds. Manure needs to be added to veggie beds in the fall in order to prevent the transmission of E. coli. For plant-based compost add 2 to 3 inches. Add no more than 1 inch of manure.
b Rake or mulch your leaves into the lawn. Larger leaves have a tendency to suffocate the grass over the winter. Leaves from ash, locust and crabapple trees generally break down quicker, and its OK to leave a few in your beds.
b If you want, cut back your herbaceous perennials to the ground. Herbaceous perennials are nonwoody plants that die back all the way to the ground.
b Avoid pruning spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia, lilacs, viburnum and Siberian peashrub. Spring-flowering shrubs bloom on 1-year-old wood. A good rule of thumb with these shrubs is: prune after bloom.
If you have questions, Colorado State University Extension is a valuable resource. Or if you are interested in increasing your knowledge of gardening in La Plata County, look into taking the 2011 Colorado Master Gardener class that starts in late February. For more information, visit www.laplataex tension.org.
Nikki Koloff became a Colorado Master Gardener in 2009. She lives in La Plata County.