By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

Get off the couch and grab a potato fork (the best tool for digging in the gardens). 

As soon as the tuberous begonia leaves start to turn yellow or after the first light frost dig them up. Cut about 5 inches long, dry the tubers indoors at room temperatures out of direct sun until the stems are dry and loose. Pull the stems and roots off, don’t wash the tubers. Store them in a perforated plastic bag filled with peat moss or vermiculite. Canna bulbs should be treated the same way. 

Dig your glad corms now. Cut the stems off to about an inch. Don’t wash them but do brush off loose soil. Allow them to dry for 2 to 3 weeks in a dry well-ventilated space. Your garage will work well. Just be careful not to run over them. Squished corms won’t grow well next spring. If you have one you don’t especially like, just leave it in the garden. It may surprise you and come back next summer. It is a good idea to dust your corms, tubers and bulbs with an insecticide-fungicide mix labeled for that use. 

Get the spuds dug and laid out to dry. They should cure about 2 weeks before you store them. Don’t wash them as you could damage the skin and then they could rot. Ideally, they should be stored in a cold, moist, dark place. Now don’t you wish you had dug that root cellar when you were building your house? 

Remove any loose skin from onions and dry them at least 2 weeks. Store in a cool dry spot. Beets can be stored, without their tops for up to 5 months if kept cold and moist, in the vegetable box in the fridge? Carrots will keep for 8 months under similar conditions. Cover them in slightly damp sand in a crock like gramma did to keep them all winter. They come out nice and crisp. Parsnips and rutabagas will also keep about 4 months if kept cold and damp. Bunkey is not sure those last two are really edible. 

Dump out all flowerpots. Leave plants in clay pot and next spring you will have pot shards. You can re use the soil next spring by adding granular fertilizer to it. If you have clay or very sandy soil in the garden, dump it there. Potting mixes have no soil in them. Instead, they contain perlite, vermiculite, peat and compost all perfect for amending poor soil. 

If you grew an ornamental sweet potato vine, pull it up. There is a tuber under there. You can eat it but it won’t have the flavor of a sweet potato grown for eating. Instead, repot it and put it in a sunny window to save it for next spring. It’s worth a try. 

Save all those leaves. They are pure gold. Cover the flower garden about a foot deep with them. Don’t remove in the spring, just lift a few of the daffs and tulips as they pop through. If you have active soil, by July, the leaves will be all devoured by the critters that live in the soil, and you will need to mulch again. Mulching keeps weeds down, moisture in, and in the winter, keeps the soil frozen so plants don’t get frost heave and expose their roots to air, killing them. 

Now, sit back and have a cup of coffee and a cookie. That is until tomorrow when you will have to pick up all the new fallen leaves.