Iron Earth Canada

How to Prepare your Lawn & Garden for Winter

Winter variety flowers. This blog posts shares tips on how to prepare a garden for winter.

Dwindling summer temperatures don’t have to indicate the end of an enjoyable gardening season. In fact, cooler temperatures are a great time to grow and harvest numerous plants and vegetables.  So, don’t let the fall season dissuade you, grab some organic compost and get ready to keep growing!

Should I fertilize my lawn and garden in the fall?

Fall is a great time to fertilize and nourish your lawn and garden.  After a busy summer of growing, soil may become exhausted or depleted, so taking the time to fertilize the soil with organic compost and a remineralizer such as Iron Earth is a great way to ensure an abundant fall harvest and will give your lawn and garden a head start come spring.

For garden beds, just spread a thick layer of nitrogen-rich organic compost along with a sprinkle of remineralizer and get ready for some cold weather crops.

What is the best time to fertilize in the fall?

September is the perfect time to start planting fall-friendly foliage and vegetables.  Ideally you want to look for plants that take about 30– 45 days to mature, so that you can establish them while the weather is still relatively warm and harvest them before the weather becomes too cold or the frost too severe. 

For lawns, it's best to wait until October or just before the ground freezes to apply nutrients. This will give any freshly seeded areas a chance to mature and will provide your lawn with the full benefit of the added nutrients over the winter months.

Fall gardening tips

There are numerous plants that can survive and, at times, thrive in cooler fall temperatures. The following plants are some great options for a delicious fall garden:

Mild Temperature Tolerant – overnight frost/light frost, but not severe frost
  • Fall broccolis, asian broccolis, open-flowering broccolis
  • Beets
  • Cilantro (until November with mild temperatures, frost)
  • Brussels
  • Orache
  • Radishes, fall radishes (daikon, black)
  • Arugula
Moderate Frost - very cold tolerant (-5 to -8 Celsius nights)
  • Bok choy, pok choy
  • Kale – lasts a long time into the fall, great variety is dazzling blue kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Winter lettuces
  • Minutina
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Mustard
  • Leeks
  • Parsnips
  • Peas – not going to develop peas on the pod, but you will be able to grow flowers and shoots.
Cold weather plants (-15 Celsius)
  • Collard greens – hardiest of brassicas
  • Green onions

Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Canada plant hardiness zones map

When selecting a variety of plants for your fall garden, always keep in mind the frost patterns and fall temperatures in your area. A great resource for determining what will thrive in your area during cooler temperatures is the Government of Canada’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The map provides information on climatic conditions throughout the country, making it easier to select plant varieties that will thrive during cooler temperatures in select regions.

After determining your fall foliage and crops based on environmental conditions, a great way to nourish the soil is, again, to spread a thick blanket of compost along with a sprinkle of remineralizer.  A nutrient and mineral-rich compost will provide a fertile growing medium for an abundant fall harvest while also ensuring a healthy soil for the subsequent growing season.

Fall Lawn & Garden Checklist

September

  • Add compost or manure to garden beds
  • Check any houseplants that were put outdoors for pests, start to move them indoors
  • Plant trees, shrubs and grass seed, giving them at least six weeks before the first frost to establish
  • Separate any over-sized hostas and transplant
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs
  • Clean bird feeders and gardening tools
  • Continue watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes
  • Pull weeds before they go to seed to reduce the number of weeds next season
  • Fertilize and re-mineralize your vegetable gardens to give your fall crops a boost of essential nutrients

October

  • Cut diseased areas out of perennials. Do not compost diseased plants!
  • Rake and compost leaves
  • Clean up garden debris. Harvest and remove all vegetable plants and fallen fruit
  • Remove dead annuals from the garden, after the first frost
  • Continue to water trees and shrubs until the ground freezes
  • Sharpen lawn mower blades and pruning shears
  • Trim tall crass away from trees and corners of your home to discourage small rodents from nesting
  • Apply fertilizer to your lawn just before the ground freezes to help carry it through the long winter