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Dig Right Minute

The garden may be beginning its dormant season, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be dormant this month. Indeed, this is a good time of year for a variety of lawn and garden tasks, from extending some of this year’s bounty to springing ahead to next year’s beauty.

  • Save – and savor – this year’s garden by gathering seeds to save for next year.  Perhaps you have some peppers left from your harvest. If so, slice the pepper open, scrape out the seeds and let them dry on a glass or ceramic plate/bowl in a dry, cool place. You can also take what’s left of this year’s herbs and dry them by tying them together with string or a rubber brand and hanging them in a warm, airy space. Once herbs are dry, store them for the season, either in a small glass jar with a lid or in a tightly sealed Ziploc bag.

  • Fall is the time to cut back on many types of perennials. Remove dead or diseased parts. When cutting back, leave at least a couple of inches above the soil line.

  • Prune shrubs, removing any dead or diseased branches. You can also prune shrubs to shape them to your liking. When pruning, cut the ends of branches to the next bud or other branch to encourage growth of shoots below the cut. Start with the oldest branches.

  • You should also remove any annuals you planted this year. Dispose of them in the compost pile (as long as the plants aren’t diseased) to help provide “fuel” for next year’s growth.

  • You’re raking anyway, so make good use of fallen leaves by turning them into leaf mulch for your garden beds. Shredded or chopped leaves help protect soil and provide nutrients when the material breaks down.

  • To ensure a lush lawn next year, fertilize your lawn before winter arrives.

  • Save a step for springtime by cleaning and sharpening your garden tools now, before you put them away for the winter.

  • Autumn is also a good time for planning for 2016. You can make a bigger garden space, for instance, by clearing out any new areas and turning over the soil to allow the sod and plants to break down and enrich the soil for planting next year.

  • You can also get ready for 2016 by planning your trip to the annual Chicago Flower & Garden Show, returning March 12-20 at Navy Pier with an expanded, exciting lineup of presenters, seminar speakers, display gardens and hands-on activities.

Don’t forget to call before you dig! Whenever you’re disturbing the ground, especially when planting trees, shrubs, groundcovers or plants, be safe and call JULIE at 811 or log onto JULIE’s E-Request and complete a request online. It’s free and crucial to avoid hitting underground lines, even in areas where you assume it’s safe to dig.

Dig Right Minute
by Tony Abruscato
Director, Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Sponsored in part by JULIE, The Chicago Flower & Garden Show presents realistic, as well as DIY solutions to inspire, educate and motivate gardening enthusiasts and newbies alike.  Blooming at Navy Pier - March 18 - 26, 2017.