I’ve been an Iowa State University Extension Master Gardener and member of the Story County Master Gardener Association since 2001. My favorite club activity is our annual Plant Sale on Mother’s Day weekend. I enjoy visiting with gardeners and helping them decide what plants would work best in their yards and their plan.

As a child I helped out with the family garden every summer reaping the fruits of my labor with joy. I also remember slipping away during visits to my grandfather’s farm to liberate some of his raspberries. However, gardening is more than just planting a flower, fruit or vegetable garden. We are conservators of the land and have a responsibility to protect the environment with a thoughtful plan for the land we manage.


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Winter preparations
by Andrea Dorn - posted 11/19/13

Now that we’ve had our first snow and many, too many, very cold days it’s time to think about any final yard cleanup we’ve left ‘til the last minute. I’m sure we all have flower and vegetable gardens, trees, bushes and lawns that await the final shutdown. But think also of your cemented areas, fences and driveways.


Vegetable gardens –

·      Clear off all dead vegetation and compost

·      dig out any remaining carrots if you haven’t already (like me)

·      dig out any volunteer trees that are trying to take over the garden

·      gather all garden trellises, cages, poles, etc. and put them away

·      coil your water hoses and put them away


Flower gardens

·      clear off any diseased vegetation (you can leave other dead vegetation through the winter to help protect/mulch the roots)

·      mulch the more tender plants and protect those roses

·      if we have any more warm days it wouldn’t hurt to water your perennials every now and then to protect against another drought (you never know)

·      if you have any plants that didn’t get planted this year (now how did that happen?) put them, pots and all, in the ground and mulch. Most will make it through the winter and you can plant them in the spring



·      rake up and/or compost any remaining leaves (I’ve mowed mine)

·      clean up any debris (fallen branches, trash, etc.)

·      put away any yard decorations



·      check cement areas for any remaining clutter (make it easy on yourself to shovel snow later)

·      put away any remaining furniture, grills, etc. (remember those hanging pots on fences or along driveways and sidewalks)

·      clear off your porch and steps to avoid any accidents in the winter

·      if we have any more warm days, water your bushes and any new trees to help them through the winter

·      cut down any volunteer trees you’ve left alone all summer


Now you should be ready for winter hibernation. No, I mean you’re ready to enjoy winter and the beauty of the changing seasons.



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