With the weather changing from day to day and snow already having fallen, what better time to start thinking about tucking your garden in for the winter?

Spring is chock full of garden work, and a little well-spent time in your garden now will decrease the number of tasks you will be facing once the snow melts and the robins return.

What follows is a list of 10 "must-do" fall garden chores:

  1. Clean up plant debris: fallen or rotted fruit leaves and stems. Make sure to remove any diseased material. (Burn it or toss it) Compost any clean material or till it into the soil.
  2. If it has been awhile since you have had a soil test, send a sample in and add amendments according to the recommendations of the test.
  3. If you plan to start new beds in the spring, dig and prepare them now.
  4. Plant your spring flowering bulbs before the ground freezes. Lift tender bulbs: Gladiola, dahlia, acidanthera, tuberous begonia, crocosmia, freesia, Peruvian daffodil, tuberose and oxalis. Dig carefully, clean thoroughly, cure/dry, store properly.
  5. Plant garlic. Garlic bulbs planted in the fall will be large and ready to harvest the following fall.
  6. Fall lawn care: keep mowing, dethatch, aerate, fertilize.
  7. Prepare rose bushes for winter: Minnesota Tip (where the entire plant is tipped over and buried in soil) or mound and mulch.
  8. Mulch first year or half hardy perennials and strawberries once the ground has frozen.
  9. Sharpen, clean and service all garden tools/machinery now so they are ready to use in the spring. (Avoid the spring rush at small engine shops.)
  10. Trees: water, water, water until the ground is frozen. Protect this year’s plantings. Use a removable trunk cover (plastic or paper) to keep rodents and deer from girdling your new trees mid-winter.

Until next time, happy gardening!

Robin Trott is a horticulture educator with University of Minnesota Extension. Contact her at 320-762-3890, or at trot0053@umn.