Although the fall weather was very nice, there may still be some work to be done before the snow flies. It is not too late! If you take the time to complete some of the chores discussed below, you will have a head start on your spring garden.

Protect young trees & shrubs Protect your young trees and shrubs from the winter cold. Materials like burlap are ideal for protecting large plants from frost. However, make sure to remove the material if the temperature rises back above freezing. Otherwise, you may accidentally force your trees and shrubs out of dormancy in the middle of winter. Screen evergreens, particularly exposed broad-leaved types, from drying winter wind and sun by setting up burlap screens or shade cloth shelters.

Clean up and prepare your garden Remove all dead vegetation and add a layer of compost and mulch, if possible. Infected plants should be removed and destroyed, but do not add this material to your compost pile. Remove larger weeds. Get a soil test and contact your extension office if you need advice about soil amendment additions. Now is an excellent time to add organic matter by adding shredded leaves to your garden beds and compost pile.

Prep for a new garden Are you planning a new garden bed for next summer in an area where grass or weeds are currently growing? Place a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard over the area, then pile on alternating layers of organic material like compost, leaves, pine needles, untreated grass clippings, and straw. In the spring, the grass and weeds underneath the pile will be dead, and your new garden bed will be ready to plant.

Start an indoor garden Winter should not stop you from growing your favorite plants indoors. Most herbs like chives, parsley, thyme, and basil can be grown in direct sunlight or using a fluorescent lamp. Experiment with tomato varieties like Toy Boy, Tiny Tim and Red Robin. Bell peppers, spinach, kale and Swiss chard can be grown when provided with proper nutrients and sunlight. We even grew potatoes.

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