Joel In The Garden

Time to plant cover crops and spring bulbs

Time to plant cover crops and spring bulbs »Play Video

Watch Joel in the Garden on KMTR NewsSource16 at 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursdays

EUGENE, Ore. — The heat of summer is long gone, and most garden plots at Alton Baker park have been tidied up and covered for winter. But garden supervisors say rotting plants that went unpicked will soon become a problem. 

“So when people leave their vegetation on their plots over the course of the winter, it just has the opportunity for diseases that could've been taken out of the garden to over-winter. Then they show up in the spring again,” said Chris Girard, south region supervisor for the city of Eugene Parks and Open Spaces.

Gardeners with a plot at one of Eugene's community gardens have about a week to either clean it up or clear it out.

November 15 is the last day to clean up your plot if you don't plant until spring.

I've got my plot mostly cleaned up. Now I'm planting two cover crops that'll add nitrogen to the soil. I'm planting winter peas and crimson clover.

“Good cover cropping and mulching and stewardship of the garden certainly makes your gardening neighbors happy,” Girard said. 

But now isn't just a good time for cover crops. Jeff Choate, a manager at Jerry’s Home Improvement, said it's also an ideal time to think about bulbs, including tulips and daffodils.

“Anything that's kind of a spring flowering bulb needs that cold period in order to properly grow the next year,” Choate said. “So they can be planted pretty much anytime up through November.”

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, Choate saod the same can be said for trees and shrubs.

“It's a good idea to mulch around those after planting them, but when they go through winter and have a chance to get the roots developed before the heat of summer hits next year, they do far better as a result,” Choate said.

Leaves and mulch remain in ready supply and will act as natural weed barriers until the spring.

During that cleanup, if you're thinking of trimming your trees or shrubs, Choate has some simple advice: Don't.
Pruning will encourage new growth at a time when you want those branches to go dormant.

Instead, the best time to prune is in the dead of winter or in the spring after the branches have stopped flowering.