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PREPARING PLANTS FOR WINTER
1. Cut back dry stems of perennials to soil level after frost to neaten the garden and remove pest eggs and disease spores that may linger. Leave stems with attractive seed heads for winter interest.
2. Compost dead plant debris to create an organic soil conditioner. Hot, active piles kill weed seeds and disease pathogens; passive, inactive piles do not.
3. Cut off diseased foliage from evergreen plants and shrubs and compost separately. Rake up and discard the old, disease-bearing mulch, too.
4. To prevent rodents from nesting in the soil, wait until the ground freezes before adding a 6-inch layer of organic material as winter mulch.
5. Mulch perennial and shrub beds with pine needles or chopped leaves. This protects both plant roots and the soil and moderates the effects of extreme temperature changes during winter freezes and thaws.
1. Sage is a perennial in most areas and does not need special treatment for the winter.
2. Rosemary is a tender evergreen perennial that should be sheltered outside (Zone 6) or potted up and brought inside (Zone 5 and colder) for the winter.
3. Thyme is fairly indestructible. A perennial, it will go dormant in the fall, then revive by itself in the spring.
4. Parsley, a biennial, will withstand a light frost. In Zone 5 or colder, cover it on cold nights. It has a long taproot and does not transplant well.
5. Chives are hardy perennials. Dig up a clump and pot it, then let the foliage die down and freeze for several weeks. Bring the pot indoors to a sunny, cool spot. Water well and harvest chives throughout the winter.
1. Protect the tender bark of young trees from gnawing critters by wrapping stems or trunks with wire or commercial tree-guard products.
2. Screen evergreens, particularly exposed broad-leaved types, from drying winter wind and sun by setting up burlap screens or shade cloth shelters.