Don't Let Frost Thwart Your Gardening Plans

Bob Roberts
October 13, 2018 - 4:47 pm
asters with frost

© Podaril |

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) --  The first frosts of autumn have come and gone but that doesn't necessarily mean your gardening season is at an end.

Your peppers and tomatoes are done for the year.  But the Chicago Botanic Garden's Boyce Tankersley said there is still plenty you can do besides feed the compost heap.

Cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, chrysanthemums and asters thrive when temperatures are in the 20's and 30's, Tankersley said.  Many native plants long ago adapted to the area's fall weather.  And, he added, there is much the backyard gardener can do to protect perennials over the winter and plan for spring.

"This is the time to be thinking about next spring," he said.  "If you have soil that needs to be worked, it's really nice if you get that bed dug over and ready to plant your vegetables and flowers next spring. 

He suggested putting down mulch to protect perennials over the winter, and added that if you recently planted a hedge or evergreen tree, you should wrap it in burlap to prevent the plants from drying out.

Of course, he said, this is the time to plant bulbs that will flower in the spring.  He said the key is to do it before the ground turns hard. 

The Botanic Garden's fall changeover has been taking place for two weeks.  Because of its vast greenhouse space, it can keep thousands of plants in safe climates away from the snow and cold. But you may still see some flowering water lilies, the last of the roses and plenty of mums and other flora in the Botanic Garden, on Lake-Cook Road in Glencoe, just east of the Edens Expressway.