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Gardening: Time short to wrap up fall chores

All good things have to come to an end and Friday and Saturday’s wind and rain took our colorful fall to the ground quickly.

We had such a gorgeous fall that maybe it needed to end that way. Mother Nature’s treats are only here for a short time before she moves onto other adventures.

However, I’m not sure I was ready for the snowflakes on my windshield as I was driving in the south Valley on Sunday morning. A few glimpses between the low clouds revealed snow on the hills. And more snow came Tuesday.

It’s time to get serious about finishing the fall chores. We had friends come out and help us clean up our garden last week. Of course the pine needles weren’t on the ground yet. So one of our tasks will be to shred them with the mower and get them into the mulch pile. Last year we got them shredded but didn’t pick them up until spring. My husband had to really work to get them up off the ground.

Our sprinklers are shut down but we still have several pieces of gas powered equipment that need to have the fuel run out of them. Maybe while the engine oil is hot, we can change the oil and have another chore done.

We put the screws back in the snow shovels and moved the snowblower to the front of the garage; this is important when you have a 400-foot-long drive way. To get ready for a potential heavy wet snow, I stage several long bamboo poles around the garden so that it is easy to grab one and knock the snow off before branches get broken. Reminder to self: Tie your jacket hood on tight, cold snow down your back is no fun.

Because we are the last house on the Avista line in our area we never converted to a gas fireplace. There have been several storms over the years that we needed it to keep the house warm for a few days. So its time to fill the wood box in the garage and stack some dry wood under a tarp. Our woodpile is under a big pine tree and we can easily run the snow blower to it. There is something very satisfying about gathering wood and then curling up in front of the fire.

Once these last minute chores are done, my plan for the rest of the winter is to hunker down and get cracking on a book I have until the middle of March to write.

“The Gardener’s Handbook for Washington and Oregon” will be a comprehensive guide on sustainable gardening for the Northwest. It will have an extensive list of more than 300 plants and a lot of tips about how to make you garden more sustainable.

It’s been a challenge to forgo garden time all last summer to get it started. I would reward myself with a couple of hours of garden time when I finished a section. It will be published by Cool Springs Press in late 2014.

Pat Munts has gardened in Spokane Valley for more than 35 years. She can be reached at pat@inlandnw

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