Today we're talking about how to end the season in your flower garden with as much beneficial impact as possible.
While it may be tempting to clean up and clear out, there are some steps you can take to ensure a smoother transition into the next gardening season.
As your flowers continue to bloom, it's an excellent time to start saving seeds. Focus on flowers with larger seed heads, such as sunflowers, cosmos, nasturtiums, and zinnias. Saving seeds from these plants can be an easy and cost-effective way to cultivate your garden in the future.
Drying and Pressing Flowers
While you're in the garden, look for flowers that are still in good shape and consider drying or pressing them for later use. Dried flowers can be used for winter crafts and arrangements or even for decorating pumpkins. Flowers like straw flowers, yarrow, Scabiosa, and plume celosia are particularly suitable for drying.
Soil Health and Weed Prevention
Instead of clearing your garden entirely, consider leaving some flowers behind. This has several benefits. Firstly, the seed heads left behind will provide food for birds throughout the winter. Overwintering beneficial insects, like ladybugs and some bees, can also find shelter in the plant debris. While there may be some less desirable insects as well, it's a trade-off that can help your garden's ecosystem. Leaving plant matter behind also contributes to soil health by adding organic matter, which feeds soil microorganisms. Moreover, it prevents weed growth and minimizes erosion over the winter.
Composting is an excellent way to dispose of most flower debris. However, be cautious with plants like morning glory, which can be invasive due to their ability to regenerate from small segments of their roots. When composting, consider chopping up larger items like sunflower stalks to speed up decomposition. If you have diseased plants, it's up to your discretion whether to include them in the compost pile, as there is some debate on whether certain diseases can survive cold composting.
To sum it up, don't rush to clear out your garden at the end of the season. Instead, consider saving seeds, drying flowers, and leaving some plants behind to benefit wildlife and soil health. If you need to dispose of plant debris, composting is the way to go, with a few exceptions.
As always, thank you for tuning in, and we'll be back next week with more tips on preparing your garden for winter. Until then, happy gardening!
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