Winter Prep

Between the end of summer and the coming of winter snow cover — is a lot of stuff that must be done. From a home & garden standpoint this is our busiest time of year.

Pulling up annuals and pruning everything else.

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Our first snow of the year came on 14 Oct which is about average.
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Once the beds are cleaned out it’s time to get the bulbs in. This year we did about 2200 bulbs including 1100 Tulips as well as Crocus, Allium , Daffodils, Hyacinth, several varieties of Muscari, and Chinodoxia.  And a couple of others. 

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The white pipe is our cable/internet line. I knew that if I didn’t put it in something shovel-resistant that we’d have problems.

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Holes for Allium. These are larger bulbs that go farther apart so we drill individual holes for them.B1200WinPrep 116

The final bed (below) gets a variety of leftovers dumped in.

This is kind of a sad year. Partially because it’s likely our last year to plant bulbs here but also because we didn’t do any of my two favorites; Black (actually very dark purple) Tulips and Frittalaria which are kind of very cool upside down things.B1200WinPrep 117

A couple of weeks ago I got to take some photos of my niece. Not really a Minnesota vs ‘Bama thing but she’s quite pretty and cheerful and she brightens the blog up a bit from the usual shots.

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One of our shooting locations was a community garden. While waiting on wardrobe and makeup I got to talk to this guy and sample some of what he grows. Minnesota has a large Hmong population from Laos who are becoming significant contributors and an asset to our state. B1200WinPrep 107

Tamaracks are one of the more interesting of trees I wasn’t familiar with prior to moving here. Unlike other ‘pines’, Tamarack turn bright yellow and shed their needles (leaves) in the fall and then grow new ones in the spring. These are some that we planted in our rain garden a few years ago. It’s common and quite beautiful this time of year to see hundreds of them in bogs in northern Minnesota. B1200WinPrep 108

Bird Food (Winterberry)B1200WinPrep 109

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For a few weeks each Fall we’ll fill gobs of bags like this each week for the compost guy to pick up. A few weeks ago we had 52 and I thought that was a lot but he said we weren’t even close as he’d had one house with over 200. Nice guy. I buy him a couple of beers at the end of each season.
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Fountains don’t like freezing winter so they have to be cleaned and dried out. Pumps are kept inside and this bit of styrofoam keeps any ice that forms from pushing out and breaking the fountain.

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A bunch of Tulips (about 200 IIRC)  put to bed for the winter.B1200WinPrep 114

Besides all of the above there are a few other winter prep chores that have to be done prior to snow cover. 

– The sprinkler system, hoses, taps and anything else outside with water in it has to get blown out so that there is no water left and ice won’t destroy it.

– The annual scalping of the lawn. Grass gets cut shorter just prior to winter. This reduces problems of snow mold and snow mice (voles).

– Take back the garage. Many Minnesotans have a bad habit of using their garages for other than car storage during the summer so come fall it’s time to think about getting cars back in for the winter. 

– Annual reclaiming of the driveway. During snowy winters every inch of driveway counts so it’s a really good idea to edge driveways and walkways to reclaim as much width from encroaching grass as possible.

– Gas engines don’t like sitting around all winter. Up until a few years ago everyone in our neighborhood would have all of their gas powered lawn mowers, weedeaters, hedge clippers, chain saws, edgers and other stuff running until all gas (with some STP and then Heet mixed in) was exhausted. We’re largely electric now so no more need for that. I’ve only two gas devices now; snow blower and bed redefiner. I should also point out that having been a life long fan of Echo tools I purchased Echo Cordless. Bad mistake. Very very bad mistake. I’ve owned dozens (probably hundreds) of rechargeable batteries over the years for cordless tools, cameras, and photo strobes. I think I’ve only returned 1 battery. Echo’s battery management system is so bad that I’ve now replaced all three original batteries as well as two of the replacement batteries and one of those replacements is starting to act up. Never Ever Ever buy Echo Cordless.

– Prepping the snow blower. This guy is critical when we get a foot or so of fresh snow overnight. Starting, tuning and lubing prior to winter is a very good idea.

And finally, the fairly garden gets moved inside for the winter and gets new and more appropriately sized plants.B1200WinPrep 115

Our last Halloween in this house. I’ll miss all of the trick or treaters and sitting outside talking to neighbors (if temps are at all mild we’ll sit on our front steps with bowls of candy so we can visit with each other during the evening).

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