Vermont Garden Journal: Fall Garden Cleanup

Oct 6, 2017

It's been an interesting fall as far as the weather goes. Just when I thought we'd be heading into a cool, wet autumn, it got hot and dry. But that doesn't mean you should shirk your fall cleanup duties. One of the biggest projects is cleaning the flower gardens.

It's fun being a gardener because I'm always learning new things. For example, I always thought all flowers should be cut back once they start to yellow during fall to reduce disease and insects. While that's still correct, there are other ways to cut back the flower garden.

Perennials, such as bee balm, that are loaded with disease should be cut back immediately. With disease or infested flowers, whack them back once they start looking ugly. By October, you can even cut back green-leafed peonies and hostas before they yellow. Rudbeckias and echinacea should be cut back before the seed heads ripen to avoid self-sowing.

Now for this week's tip: harvest winter squash now once they color up. First, store them in a warm, airy room for a few weeks to cure and then in a basement or root cellar at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. While many winter squash only last a few months in storage, butternut and hubbard squash can last up to six months.