(Photo: Courtesy of Larry Stebbins)
Peak gardening season may be coming to an end, but green thumbs shouldn't go into complete hibernation during the winter. It's important to know how to keep plants happy in chilly weather while prepping your lawn and garden for warmer seasons.
Master gardener Loni Gaudet of Berthoud answered some deep-rooted questions from Colorado Matters listeners.
How To Put Your Garden And Yard "To Bed" For Winter
Pull out all your annuals while leaving the perennials. Consider seeding in cover crops, such as clovers or winter wheat. The plants will cover and protect your soil over the winter, and come spring, just till the crops into the soil.
For lawns, start cutting back on watering now so your lawn will "go to sleep." Also consider aerating your lawn in the fall in addition to the spring. Aeration is the practice of poking tiny holes in the grass, opening up lawns for better water infiltration. Finally, fertilize your lawn and lay down extra seed on dead and thinner patches.
How To Prepare Sun-Loving Cacti For Colder Weather
Cacti need less water in the winter, so start cutting back on waterings so the spiny plants ease into the new schedule. Remember to let the soil get very dry between waterings. If your windows are older and therefore let more chilly air in, set the cacti away from the window so they don't get too cold.
How To Keep Hungry, Hungry Caterpillars Away From Crops
Simply pick the green wrigglies off the plant by hand. A biological pest control called Bacillus Thuringiensis, or BT for short, is also effective against caterpillars while leaving pollinators unharmed. Be aware that BT will also kill the caterpillars that turn into butterflies.
How To Pick The Best Plants For An Office Garden
In low-light areas, snake plants, also known as "mother-in-law's tongue," grow well. Pathos vines, parlor ferns and spider plants can also handle a dimmer environment. For well-lit areas, Ficus trees are a good option, as well as the less picky rubber tree. Prayer plants and philodendrons also enjoy a sunny corner. Be careful not to overwater, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
A Surprising Tip For First-Time Seed Savers
A lot of seeds bought today are hybrids, and are not bred to produce for more than one season and saved seeds will not reproduce true to the parent plant. Check the seed packet or plant tag for more information. For example, a "F1 hybrid" won't reproduce for multiple seasons, but one labeled "open pollinated" will. Keep in mind that many annual flowers, which are often lab-grown clones also won't produce good seeds for harvesting