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Pests pose another challenge that can best be addressed by taking preventive measures. Gardens often need to be protected from rabbits. In regions plagued by deer, deer fencing is one option, but it's smarter simply to use deer-resistant plants (unless restricting your plant selection in this way offends your sense of gardening freedom). An even greater number of gardeners are well advised to look into growing:
Delaying your garden’s clean up until the spring is a boon for all the creatures living there. Instead of heading out to the garden with a pair of pruning shears and a rake this fall, wait until next April. By then, all the critters living there will be emerging from their long winter nap. And even if they haven’t managed to get out of bed by the time you head out to the garden, most of them will still manage to find their way out of a loosely layered compost pile before it begins to decompose. Do Mother Nature a big favor and save your garden clean up until the spring. And, when spring does arrive, please use these pollinator-friendly tips for cleaning up the garden the right way.
SO here is my dilemma. I love the idea of protecting good pollinators and beneficial insects, naturally, but in the vegetable garden (and I garden in a old, three generation veg garden as you know) we have many non-beneficial insects as well – and most if not all of these are either managed either by insecticide (not an option) or by strategy -meaning- outsmarting them as most if not all either winter-over in garden debris or underground in plant material that is either dormant or decaying. I’m building a list of damaging insects first that are most problematic such as wireworm (that firm, 1 inch orange, segmented worm one often finds in sod or acidic soils that plagues everything from the Maine potato growers to home perennial borders with Phlox paniculata, Asters and dahlia tubers. The worms live up to three or four years before pupating but winter over in roots of weeds and garden plants that are annuals particularly brassicas. So no keeping kale over through the winter for me. The only cure according to University of Wisconson and Rutgers is to clean the garden as best as you can every fall as even insecticides work well. This same topic keeps coming up in my talks as well particualrly with cabbage root fly maggot, that the UMASS studies show now winter over as eggs or adults at the base of all brassica crops (even arugula) in late autumn in debris or soil, and emerge in their first flight around May 5th here in New England. Their recommendation is first crop rotation every 5 years (not practical for home growers with raised beds) and cleaning the garden in the fall to remove old plant material where adults and eggs winter over. This is such a destructive insect – and one with at least 7 flights throughout the summer, its this first flight that does the most damage so removing all brassicas that are dead in fall has always been my best practice. Then, there are plenty of ‘bad’lepidoptera that winter over in ornamentals (iris borer and others that lay eggs in October with bearded Iris unless the foliage is cut off). so you can see my point, right? So while I totally embrace not cleaning up my wild areas or meadow areas, when it comes to ornamentals and the veg garden – I am still struggling with this trend. I havent even mentioned viruses, fungi AND worms in mulch as we now suffer with the Japanese Jumping Worm that loves mulch and leaf litter. We avoid it by allowing the ground to go fallow for some years keeping it perfectly clean as the eggs winter over and hatch in April. I don’t know – I mean I ‘get it’, the love and ‘feel-good’ actions of not cleaning up to save some beneficial insects, but is anyone telling the whole story out there? (Don’t tell me that it’s going to be me, either! I’m only presenting both sides in my next book !!) – I just would like to see presented the entire story, which sometimes has an answer that no one wants to hear. I thought that I would raise this other side of the issue. It reminds me of one question I got at a lecture recently where a woman asked me how I could stop the caterpillars from eating her pollinator trees!
If you have Caladium, Tuberous Begonias, Canna Lilies, Calla Lilies, Gladiolas, etc., in colder climates these plants will not overwinter outdoors and have to be replanted every spring. However, the tubers or bulbs can be dug and stored over winter indoors and planted again next spring. It’s a great way to stretch your gardening budget. Also the bulbs get bigger and better every year. If you are interested in learning how to over winter tender bulbs and even geraniums, check out Fall Gardening – Thinking Ahead to Next Spring.
Similar to drip systems, although much less expensive. Soaker hoses release water directly into the soil, and the water conservation benefits are the same as with drip systems. There are various types of hoses made of plastic, rubber or canvas. Some are designed to permeate water through their entire surface and others have tiny holes. They can be moved throughout the garden and turned on and off manually, or left in place and hooked up to a timer-controlled valve.
I have been watching TOH since 2014 and really love the show and crew! I have severe health issues and am limited in what I can do. The show has given me the courage and trust to completely rebuild my bathroom and toilet. It was hard work, and when needed, friends and family helped me out. You guys keep my creative mind bussy, thank you so much for this! Greeting from the Netherlands!
If you didn't prune back your perennials last fall, they're probably looking pretty ugly as spring sets in. Many perennials prefer to be left standing throughout the winter, for extra protection. But by definition, herbaceous perennials will die back to the ground during winter. If you did leave your perennials standing last fall, once you start to see new growth at the base of the plants, it's safe to begin removing winter mulch and pruning them down to ground level.

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Kits combine the components you need for specific applications. You can find kits to create systems for vegetable gardens, flower beds, container plants and landscape plants such as trees and shrubs. Some kits allow you to expand the system as your irrigation needs grow. Other kits provide repair parts or let you convert pop-up sprinklers to drip irrigation.
Great comments, Eileen. We agree that leaving the leaves in place is great for your garden (and all the critters living in it), as long as they don’t pile up too thickly over the crowns of your plants. And we also agree that over mulching disrupts native, ground-nesting bees. Here are two other articles you might find interesting that talk about habitat gardening for pollinators and other beneficial insects:
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