Monday, November 26, 2012


I've had a few people ask me to share the steps I go through to get my garden ready for the winter. Even though it feels a little “Jerry Springer” (you know like I’m airing the most eccentric parts of my personality to the world) I will oblige.

The first step took place back in October, the 10th, 11th and 12th to be exact. I know that sounds early but the forecasters were all in agreement that as of Friday the 12th our streak of sunny dry days was to end, and not in a subtle way but 3 days of soaking downpours (and get this...we've received over 13" of rain since that day just shy of two months ago). It was time to start taking the containers of non hardy succulents inside for the winter. The temperatures were still fine but a dry container weighs a lot less than a wet one. And these plants will winter over with greater success if they don’t head inside soaking wet. Plus it’s nice to work in the sunshine right? I cleaned up each plant and container before hauling them down to the basement…

There are a couple of plants here that are pretty much hardy in Portland, but I’m not sure their container could withstand a freeze, so those come down here too rather than staying outside.

For the same reason I also started to move the really large containers that will spend winter outside from on the patio to up, under the shade pavilion. Not everything, but at least the ones that really want to stay dry. And finally I dug the few in-ground Agaves that aren't hardy in Zone 8…

And potted them up for indoors.

They were in the ground because they weren't looking so good and rather than toss them I gave them a second chance. So far this technique has always worked for me, let them spread their roots a bit and they eventually perk up, even if they have to return to a container later.

So that all happened the 2nd week in October, after that I ignored my garden responsibilities until November 3rd, that’s the day we wrapped the shade pavilion turning it into a makeshift greenhouse. I was dreading this.

Not because the process is difficult, it’s actually rather simple…thanks to my problem solving, component thinking, husband.

No I was dreading it because it’s finally admitting there are no more days to be spent outside enjoying the garden. Oh I’ll be out there, working and studying the plants, but there won’t be any relaxing on the patio or lying in the grass. Not for months...

Okay snap out of it! Summer's over and winter is on the way, time to fill the shade pavilion greenhouse…

And move a couple of tender things right up near the back door so they can come inside when the temperature drops.

All that heavy lifting and no visit to the Chiropractor! Yay!

The next thing on the list was to take cuttings of the tender succulents planted in the ground.

I’d been doing this in small increments up until the week of Nov 15th but since we were predicted to get a freeze on the 15th and 16th I went into overtime and cut cut cut…(the freeze didn't happen)

Wow. That’s a lot of plants, especially considering I’d already done about this many earlier. The thing that really amazed me was most of these I overwintered last year on our bedroom windowsill. Things grew a little over the summer. Now they’re cut back, potted up and ready for another winter.

Finally I moved some of the containers that I would like to get a little protection from the wind and rain up against the shade pavilion.

And I stopped to look at the empty patio.

So you can see there are a few steps that I go through. Some just precautionary, some very necessary, but when you spread them out over a month and a half it isn't that much work. Or so I tell myself. And lest you think I've completed all my chores there are still a few stragglers. I still haven’t done anything with the “pond” plants, other than sit them down further in the tank when the wind got out of control crazy.

And I realized the other day I haven’t taken any cuttings from this plant. Guess I better get busy...

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