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Shutting down your garden for the season

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Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012 11:35 pm | Updated: 10:35 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Here is a list of tasks that need to be accomplished before winter closes in, so skim it to see which ones apply to your own garden:

1. Clean up the plastic leftovers, such as the six packs you emptied and abandoned.

2. Gather the organic garbage, meaning spent pea vines and the like. Spread them out on the lawn and run over them with your mower before dumping into a compost heap or spreading them across your naked garden so that they can decompose.

3. Reduce fall tree watering. However, do one deep watering after the leaves have fallen but the soil has not yet frozen.

4. Geraniums, tuberous begonias, fibrous begonias, fuchsias and mini roses can be put into pots and spend the winter as houseplants.

5. If you want a rest from gardening, geraniums, tuberous begonias and fuchsias can tough it out in some dark corner where it stays about 40 degrees. Cut down the fuchsias until they are 5 inches tall and remove the stems and leaves before storing. Water enough so that the soil stays just barely moist. Trim back the geraniums, pull them out of the soil and hang them on a garage or basement wall; some folks hang them bare, but I have had more success with first putting them in a holey plastic bag or a brown paper bag. Dig up your tuberous begonias, brush off the soil and bring the plants inside. After the leaves and stems die off naturally, put the tubers in a box of sawdust, cat litter or vermiculite before storing.

6. Dahlias can be enjoyed until after a light frost. At that point, slice off the flower, leaves and stem and dig up the huge tuber clumps. Let them sit indoors until the dirt dries out and can be brushed off. Then bury each one in a box lined with about eight pages of newsprint and filled with sand, vermiculite or sawdust; don’t let the clumps touch each other. Cover each box with more newsprint. Store in 40 degree darkness.

7. I grow roses in planters. In late August, I cut the plants back so they are about six inches tall, roll them into the now-crowded cool and dark spot in the garage, and cover each with a brown grocery bag. I water barely enough to keep the soil from turning to dust.

8. Cut back perennials and apply bone meal at the rate of six cups per 100 square feet, and then mulch them with chopped up straw or dead leaves.

9. Turn off your outdoor spigots and put away your hoses.

10. Here are two methods to save your glads from season to season. One is to pull up the stem and corm, brush off the soil and pull off the new corm that is located below the old one. Let it dry for just a few hours and then store in a box full of sawdust, vermiculite or kitty litter. Or, dig the plant up, with the corm and roots still encased in a clump of dirt. Put it in a well lit area and gradually reduce watering until the leaves fall off and the stem dies. Brush off the soil and place each plant into its own bag, and store in the usual cool and dark place.

11. Cut off spent raspberry canes, meaning the ones that produced fruit this year. Tie the new green canes up so they are prepared to bear fruit next summer.

12. Draw out what was where in your garden. It will help with crop rotation for next year.

Linden Staciokas has gardened in the Interior for more than two decades. Send gardening questions to her at

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