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Gardeners prep for winter, planting

News editor

For some, gardening happens between the last and first frosts of the year. For others, like Jana Dalke and Mike Moran, gardening is a process that flows from one season to the next.

Late October is transition time for Dalke, who with her husband, Dale, operates Serenity Gardens on 190th Rd. between Marion and Hillsboro. The business side closes in late October, although good weather could extend open hours a few days into early November, Dalke said. Once that happens, the transition to winter, with an eye toward spring, will begin in earnest.

Mulching the plants and trees that will ride out the winter cold outdoors will be a priority.

“I’ll bunch the perennials and the shrubs together and put some hay bales around them,” Dalke said. “I’ll leave the trees where they’re at and mulch them in their containers.”

Other plants will winter inside a greenhouse. Dalke already has taken steps to clear the greenhouse of any unwanted pests. Keeping the plants pest-free requires another step.

“Soon I’ll be treating any plants I’ll be bringing into the greenhouse with insecticides to make sure I’m not bringing any bugs inside with them,” Dalke said.

While hunkering down for the winter, it’s also planting time for Dalke.

“I’m trying to get some stuff planted before winter. If I have leftover cornflowers, I have space next to a building,” Dalke said. “Fall is a great time for planting perennials. I have bulbs. I’ve got tulips, daffodils, crocus, surprise lilies, and I need to get my garlic in the ground.”

Given her business, it’s not surprising that at this time of the year Dalke fields a lot of calls from customers asking for advice.

“The biggest question I get is ‘Well, what about my (insert plant name here), will they be OK?’” Dalke said. “They call me all the time. Often I’ll send out an email if it’s scheduled to frost, telling them to cover their mums, or bring in your house plants. People can always call me.”

Moran’s garden is winding down, but he’s still seeing some production.

“I still have tomatoes out, and peppers. Peppers really come on for the fall,” he said.

The peppers may come on late, but for those and other plants, Moran gets started in January. While Dalke has a greenhouse, Moran’s setup isn’t so elaborate.

“We have a south-facing window and I put up a grow light,” Moran said. “We don’t have a greenhouse. We’ve talked about it.”

Moran’s indoor garden is larger than just a few plants.

“I probably have 40 leek plants, 10 to 20 tomato plants, same with peppers,” he said. “You don’t always get good germination.”

The plants don’t grow to the level of producing, Moran said. The winter gardening gives him a head start so he’ll have healthy plants to transfer outside for the growing season in the spring.

Moran said he also grows parsley and basil indoors during the winter.

“For me it’s kind of a fun thing to do in the cold,” Moran said.

Last modified Oct. 23, 2014

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