Planning and Preparation: Now and in the Future

If it weren’t for the sun setting at 7pm, I might be able to internally rationalize that winter is still months away. The calendar, however, does not choose to accompany me on this fantasy ride. So, prepare I must, for winter is coming.

As I consider what needs to be done to prepare for winter, I realize that now is actually the time to prepare for spring! Spring? Yes, spring. If I want tulips to greet me in the spring, I need to plant them now. It seems so far off, and yet, before we know it, the time is here. I spoke with Master Gardener, Janette Pangburn, about what we should be doing to prepare. She provided the following information:

Things You Can Do this Fall For a Better Spring


There are many plants you should put in the ground now. Daffodils, tulips, iris, and crocus are just a few. When it comes to bulbs, a good rule of thumb is that if it flowers in the spring, it should be planted in the fall. Pangburn also spoke about how fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs, as long as you remember to make sure the new plants are receiving an adequate amount of water before the ground freezes.

Multiply What You Already Have

One reason to divide plants is to multiply the plants you already have with no extra cost. Many plants can be divided successfully now, such as day lilies, peonies and hostas. Another reason to divide tuberous root plants is for the health of the plant. If the day lilies your mother planted 20 years ago “just aren’t blooming like I remember”, the roots are probably crowded, and could benefit greatly from being dug up, separated, and given some room. If you have extra plants, consider sharing the wealth with a neighbor.

Not interested in digging? Don’t own a shovel? Now is the time to collect marigold, dill, poppy and zinnia seeds to plant in the spring. Consider taking cuttings from some of your favorite container plants to winter over inside your house. Coleus and geraniums are great examples of plants from which you can take cuttings.

Yard Clean Up – for Pest Control Next Year

Pangburn also stressed the importance of good preparation now that can minimize problems in the future.

  • Clean up all fallen fruit and leaves from under your fruit trees (do not throw in your compost bin if you have pest or disease issues)

  • Mulch only after a good frost. You do not want rodents setting up house in your mulch!

  • Be sure use hardware cloth around trees to protect from rodent girdling

The last part of my conversation with Pangburn was about getting involved and being informed. “Join your local garden club!” she said with excitement. Being together with others who share your interests is a great way to get to know people, learn new things, and share your own knowledge.

There are many local resources available to answer questions and address your specific needs. The Master Gardener’s Answer Line (218) 327-0676 is answered daily by volunteers from the Master Gardner Program. There is a Master Gardener’s booth at the Farmers’ Market each Wednesday. Consider visiting or liking the Master Gardener’s Facebook page (search for “Itasca County Master Gardeners”). You can find information and ask questions though that Facebook page. The University of Minnesota Extension has a helpful web site. You can go to and find many helpful resources.

Planning and Preparation: Now and in the Future

When the Community Foundation thinks about planning for the future, we think about springs (plural) as in generations of springs. What needs to be cleaned up or organized now in your life? Do you have a will? Have you thought about the values and story you want to leave as a legacy to your family and community? What seeds do you want to plant now? The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation is happy to help and has resources available.

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350 NW 1st Ave, Suite E  | Grand Rapids, MN 55744  |  218-999-9100

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