• December 15, 2019

MASTER GARDENERS: Prepare your garden for the first freeze - Odessa American: Gardening

e-Edition Subscribe

MASTER GARDENERS: Prepare your garden for the first freeze

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2019 5:00 am

This time of year I am always asked if I am going to cut back my backyard after the first freeze. After the first freeze, I stand at my kitchen sink looking into what occupied so much of my spring and summer time. A little sadness always creeps in but also some relief that the July and August heat are gone once again.

The answer to the question, unfortunately, is it depends on what type of garden and yard you have. Of course, if you have any type of plant that is diseased it should be removed from your yard and gotten rid of. Please don’t add it to your compost pile.

As Master Gardeners we are taught IPM – integrated pest management. Texas A&M University describes IPM as: “A sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health and environmental risks.” Hopefully letting nature work for you will allow you to do less.

So leave your perennials standing which will provide a place to watch birds picking out the seeds. It will also provide homes for overwintering insects which, in turn, will provide food for the birds and for each other. Let nature take care of itself. Maybe in the spring you will see a few migrating birds visit your garden looking for leftovers.

In late winter (or when you simply can’t stand it anymore) cut down the stalks and chop into about 6” lengths and use as mulch along with the leaves that you have gathered from your trees. Your spring plants will thank you for the organic material.

In your vegetable garden it is probably best to clear old growth since many plants have seed heads that will start too many unwanted new plants. If tomatoes and peppers have dropped off and are laying on the ground, you may want to rake them up and feed them to the wildlife. Otherwise, next year you will have too many plants. This is also a good time to recognize what worked best with the least amount of time and effort (and water) from you. If you have a plant that was labor intensive, mark it off the list for next year.

Think of the time you are saving by not cleaning so early. Use the time to clean, sharpen and oil all your tools. Straighten out and sweep your garden shed and clean up your potting table. Next spring when you open the door and everything is clean and ready for a new year, you will be glad you did.

For more information, call the AgriLife office at 498-4071 in Odessa or at 686-4700 in Midland.

Odessa, TX

Current Conditions

Humidity: 45%
Winds: SW at 6mph
Feels Like: 52°

Your Extended Forecast


High 78°/Low 49°
Clear. Lows overnight in the upper 40s.


High 78°/Low 39°
Sunny. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 30s.


High 53°/Low 27°
Mainly sunny. Highs in the low 50s and lows in the upper 20s.
Online Features

Pet Central


Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>



Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>



Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>



Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>

  • ALL-ACCESS: Subscribe to our e-edition and premium website at myoaoa.com.
    You can read your daily newspaper without taking a walk to the driveway.
    Look back at yesterday's newspaper, or issues from months ago with our archive feature.
    Call circulation at 432-337-7314 to sign up today.