Winter is here, and while your garden has probably gone to sleep for the year, you might want to schedule a tiny bit of preventative maintenance so that your garden is EVEN BETTER next year. We want to prevent overwintering insects and fungal diseases If you get a break in the weather, here are a few things to try:
- Clean up all the dead leaves and fallen fruit – the more you can clean up, the less places there are for pests and fungal spores to hide.
- Keep removing weeds – extra moisture and a few sunny days can cause weed seeds to germinate. It’s easier to get rid of them before they get started. If any weeds have grown up around your trees or shrubs, you really want to remove them. The green foliage can trap extra moisture near the trunk and cause fungal diseases that can severely damage your plants.
- Apply dormant sprays to your woody perennials. Dormant sprays are oils that suffocate insect eggs and fungal spores. They are sometimes combined with pesticides such as Sulphur, lime, or copper to control additional insects or fungal diseases. When purchasing these products, carefully read the label. Use products appropriate for your plant species and predominant pests, if applicable. These sprays are for trees, shrubs, and roses that have gone dormant. This is very important as the oil will damage leaves. Wait until the leaves have fallen off before applying the treatment. Do not apply these sprays to evergreen plants. Conifers and ferns are especially sensitive to these types of spray, so be careful of overspray. The best time to apply dormant sprays to your plants is early December, early January, and early February. If you have a spare moment, you can apply your dormant sprays near Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Superbowl Sunday. This makes a great excuse to go outside for a while if your relatives are staying too long or your team is losing. Spray the plant well, making sure the whole surface of the plant is covered. Do not spray once the buds are opening. You don’t want to damage the tender new leaves or flowers, and you really don’t want to hurt the beneficial insects that will be visiting the new flowers.
These tiny bits of preventative maintenance will go a long way to ensuring an abundant, healthy garden when the spring rolls around!